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County budget passes Finance Committee
Jul 28, 2004 12:00 am
Wilson County taxpayers can expect to find similar tax bills in their mailboxes later this year if commissioners approve the budget proposed Monday night by the county's Finance Committee.
In what some officials called the "smoothest budget process in years" the panel voted unanimously to set the county's tax rate at $2.97 per $100 of assessed value – the same rate as last year. The total county budget is just over $25 million.
After several sessions going over individual department's basic budgets, the panel looked at needs assessments. Members unanimously approved setting the county's reserve fund balance at $1.2 million leaving $422,593 for needs assessments.
"I'd be afraid for it to be any lower," District 15 Commissioner Billy Swindell said, of the four percent reserve. "We were lucky last year."
Items approved as needs assessments included adding $300,000 to the jail reserve for start-up costs associated with the expanded facility, $2,340 for the election for officers and special judges, $17,500 for county GIS needs, $10,000 for records preservation, $11,000 for postage the property assessor's appraisal program, $5,000 for the Circuit Court Clerk's office due to the addition of Juvenile Court duties, $1,800 to replace computers and software for judicial commissioners, $3,000 for prisoner clothing, $12,884 to change a part-time library position to full time and $30,000 for design work for an addition to the Lebanon Library.
"I hope we've got everything," Swindell said. "I hope there's no sleeper in there… Something that ought to be in there that isn't. Some other thing that might have been missed."
The increases approved as needs assessments were in addition to $1.3 million in cost increases absorbed in the current budget. Those costs included: $83,000 for gasoline and diesel fuel, $149,000 to open the College Street building, $340,000 restored to the sheriff's budget for a car lease payment, $350,000 for prisoner medical costs to cover inmates dropped from TennCare rolls, $252,000 for a 1.45 percent increase in state retirement costs, $114,000 for an additional election, and $50,000 to cover two months of a raise given to county employees last year. The raise was instituted Sept. 1 requiring additional money to fund the increase from July 1- Aug. 30 of this year. The remaining funds were included in the status quo budget.
"The only thing I'm sorry about is that we couldn't give (employees) a raise," District 14 Commissioner and Finance Committee Chairman Rusty Thompson said.
"This year we're putting money is a place that's harder to see," he said of the $114,000 state retirement expenditure increase.
"We're one of the few counties not in a budget crisis," said Road Superintendent and Finance Committee member Steve Armistead. " I think it's a tribute to employees that we don't have to go home and see ourselves on TV."
The breakdown of the rate is as follows: 87 cents for general government, 17 cents for highways and public works, 7 cents for highway and capital projects, $1.46 for general purpose school fund, 23 cents for general debt service, 10 cents for solid waste disposal and 7 cents for sanitation projects.
The County Commission will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 23 to finalize the budget. A public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. prior to the meeting.
Night News Editor Sherry Phillips can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 44 or by e-mail at email@example.com.