The Wilson County Commission unanimously passed a status quo budget at its meeting June 15 and is expected to receive $2 million in CARES Act funding — $400,000 more than previously projected.
“Nashville and Shelby County, some of the major counties, got a lot of CARES Act money,” Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said. “So they’ve taken some of their proceeds and distributed it among the other 93 counties … it will go in our budget and be used where it needs to be used.”
The county has been working with its maintenance and IT departments to assign that funding, which is meant to help local governments pay for projects despite COVID-related revenue shortage. It has not been formally approved or included in the budget.
According to the budget passed Monday, the county expects to bring in $443.7 million in revenue and spend $448.5 million, ending the year with $76.6 million. Finance Director Aaron Maynard said revenue projections are larger than normal because of lines in the school system’s budget.
“Fund 177, which is the school’s capital projects fund, there is $60 million sitting there in bond proceeds and $85 million from insurance,” he said. “This is not a fund which has previously been budgeted, so when you look at that front page and you see that all of a sudden we’re at $443 million, where did all that extra money come from? That’s where it is.”
The general purpose school fund budget also includes an additional $5.84 million for teachers, $1.24 million for teachers and $1.17 million for vocational education teachers after voters approved a sales tax increase to fund teachers raises in March.
Wilson County Schools is still working out whether those teachers will return to the classroom this fall, and Director of Schools Donna Wright provided an update during the meeting.
“We’re going to try to open on a normal schedule,” she said. “We surveyed the parents today, things have gone out, and they’re already coming back with information … if we get started, what’s our preparation if we have to go back into a remote or virtual environment?”
Wright said the district is looking at internet access across the county in hopes of being more prepared for a second wave. She said parents have also been highly responsive to the survey and are contributing to the process.
“We’re surveying to see where our gaps our with families without being intrusive,” she said. “If we can coordinate sort of a geolocation as far as where we have those gaps, we can try to fill in. The other thing is … what kind of access parents have at home, as far as whether it’s a laptop, Chromebook, a desktop, a smartphone, just so we’ll have an idea of what we’re looking at when we get back to school.”
Schools are also planning a focus on trauma resources to help students when they return. Wright listed the tornado, parents losing their jobs and children overhearing adult conversations as potentially traumatic events common among students since March 3.
“That’s what school’s about, a safe, secure place,” she said. “And then we’ll get into the teaching and learning side of it. With that, we’re very, very hopeful that things will allow us to at least get back to the routine of school, and I think it will be good for the county as well.”
The Wilson County Commission’s next regular session meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on July 20, at the Wilson County Courthouse located at 115 E. High St. in Lebanon.