By Max Hrenda
Despite moving to raise the county’s debt service tax rate by 15 cents, the Carter County Budget Committee still needs to find nearly $2 million to balance next year’s budget.
On Thursday evening, the committee voted 5-3 for the increase while simultaneously agreeing to leave the tax portions for the school system and Highway Department at their current rates – $1.04 and 13 cents, respectively.
Any increase would need approval from the County Commission before going into effect.
While that 15-cent increase would yield about $2,116,000 in earnings, the county’s General Fund remains almost $2 million short.
According to Finance Director Ingrid Deloach, despite the $2.1 million that would be added by the tax increase, cuts still needed to be made in General Fund.
“We’re going to have to balance the General Fund budget,” Deloach said. “I would ask that you give me some direction as to how you want that to happen, so I can get with office-holders and make sure we have our budgets in line.”
At the committee’s last meeting on Tuesday, Deloach reported that the General Fund budget was facing an increase of roughly $2.3 million. For Thursday’s meeting, after removing several requests at the commissioners’ requests, Deloach presented a reduced total of $1,939,123.64.
Although nearly $2 million remains to be cut from the General Fund, the only cut came from a motion by Commissioner Scott Sams, who singled out an allotment of $15,000 in an industrial line item.
“I make a motion to cut that one, because it’s something we spend on something else anyway,” Sams said. “It’s not appropriated for anything.”
Sams’ motion passed with seven ayes, with Commissioner Charlie Bayless abstaining.
Sams also suggested another cut of $30,000 to the budget for Carter County Tomorrow, the county’s economic development board. Although this cut would represent 75 percent of CCT’s operating budget, Sams said the board’s results didn’t warrant $40,000 of county funds.
Sams’ motion would fail to gain enough votes, with three in favor, three against, and Bayless abstaining.
The committee attempted to gain ground by reviewing requests from county department heads, with Commission Chairman Tom Bowers recommending a $110,000 reduction in requests made by the sheriff’s department.