CC Notes – June 16th 2014
Budget Hearings Update
The budget process for the next fiscal year is beginning to wind down. On a couple of occasions during this process, I have indicated my inclination to move the budget for Solid Waste underneath the General Fund of the county as it is currently treated as a separate fund. When a department is budgeted as a separate fund outside of the General Fund, property tax pennies are allocated to it. Currently, property tax pennies are allocated to four different areas: the General Fund ($0.565), Schools ($0.6250), Solid Waste ($0.1125), and Debt ($0.1950) for a total property tax rate of $1.4975. All income generated from these property tax allocations stay with the departments at the end of the year and go to their fund balance. These fund balances grow when more income is received than is spent. In the case of the Solid Waste department, I believe this is unnecessary and is not flexible in serving the needs of the entire county. During the meeting, I made a motion move the Solid Waste Fund into the General Fund. This would have meant that tax pennies would not have to be allocated specifically to that fund, and that any excess would go to the county’s General Fund balance. This would provide flexibility in the use of these funds, while at the same time keeping a full accounting record of all transactions made. The motion failed due to the lack of a second.
A motion was passed to give the BOE growth money on their current property tax penny allotment. It was stated that this motion was a way to get the budget back to the BOE so they could make some changes that had been discussed and look at it in more detail. I supported the motion, but I also believe the county may be able to do more without changing or adding to the tax structure. The BOE has a large expense of over $400,000 in this budget for purchasing social studies textbooks for our children. Many of these books are up to 18 years old and need to be replaced for reasons from wear and tear issues to simply having more up to date information. A law was recently passed that would allow county funding bodies to give one time money to the BOE that would not change the Maintenance of Effort required in future years. I believe the County Commission can help pay for a portion of these books using fund balance money. This seems to be a good compromise that will help the BOE and provide for the education of our children without increasing taxes. It is also similar to capital spending the County Commission allocates to other departments. Also of note is the fact that the SRO money is still in the BOE budget.
As we continue through this process of prioritizing the needs of our county, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I will be happy to discuss the budget in detail with you at any time. After all, it is your money.
The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners was in session for the regular monthly meeting on June 16th with several commissioners absent. Those unable to attend were Brian Houston, Caroline Knight, Charles Seiber, Jan McNeil, Mike Harvel, and Sonya Rimmer. The twelve members present represented a quorum and the meeting moved forward
All votes on the evening were unanimously approved. The first resolution was to authorize acceptance of the grant contract between the State of Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and Cumberland County, allowing the County Mayor to execute the grant documents. Next, the Commission approved a resolution reappointing Ron Pulley to the Cumberland County Library Board for a second term of three years, reappointing Melanie Sherrill for a second term of three years, and appointing Ann Perron to the Cumberland County Library Board for a first term of three years. A resolution was also passed reappointing Darrell Comer as a member of the Cumberland County Health and Safety Standards Board.
Several routine, end of year type budget resolutions were also passed to clean up line items for the end of the fiscal year. Since the Budget Committee is still working on the new budget, a continuing budget and tax rate was approved for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014 that authorizes the expenditure of funds by the various county offices and departments at last year’s levels. This will be superseded when the new budget is passed in the next few weeks.
Year to date property tax collections are at 100.8 percent of budget while Hotel/Motel collections are at 79.5 percent. $586,691 has been collected in Hotel/Motel tax year to date. Ambulance service collections continue to lag behind estimates at 70.9 percent of budget with April receipts of $226,787. At this point it looks like this line will not meet estimated revenue projections. Prisoner boarding is still strong with $886,520 collected toward a budgeted amount of $1,046,856 representing 84.7 percent of budget year to date. These figures represent 9 months of revenue. Sales tax collected for the General Purpose School fund was up slightly against budget for May receipts at $658,247, but early estimates are that June was down approximately $27,000 leaving us approximately $26,000 below budget. At this point, sales tax projections are slightly lower than projected meaning we need a strong July accrual to meet the budgeted amounts.
Thank you for allowing me to serve the 4th District and Cumberland County. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at any time.
Board of Commissioners
4th District Representative