The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners met tonight to continue work on the 2010 – 2011 Cumberland County budget and tax levy. While I am not officially your 4th District Commissioner until September 1st, 2010, I attended the meeting to get a head start on my service as your Commissioner.
The evening began at 5:00 PM with a work session. A recap of the tax levy that was proposed by the Budget Committee was given. The total property tax increase proposed was for 9.5 cents, with 7 cents for the Board of Education to meet minimum State requirements, 1 cent for the energy efficiency program for the BOE, and 1.5 cents for solid waste disposal for closing the dump and transitioning to having our trash hauled out of county. In addition to this money, approximately $40,000 in additional funding is required for the library in order to maintain the funds the State of Tennessee gives to the library.
Multiple ways were discussed to either cut the budget further, or to increase revenues. Commissioner Tollett suggested a wheel tax or a blend of a wheel tax and property tax increase. Several problems were pointed out with attempting to enact a wheel tax. Many mentioned that the public is strongly against the tax as demonstrated in a 4 to 1 defeat of the proposal in the recent past. Others mentioned that the tax would adversely affect farmers, and that the timing would not work as passing a wheel tax requires a 2/3 majority vote at two consecutive Commission meetings, and then 30 days to allow the public to call for a referendum. Many believed that such a referendum would again defeat the wheel tax.
Commissioner Presley mentioned that his constituents wanted to downsize county government and did not want taxes increased. He suggested selling the old library and using the funds for the budget. This would be funding recurring budget items with non-recurring funds, which is not the proper way to fund any type of budget. Commissioner Harvel mentioned that the County Commission had been “crucified” over trying to increase revenue with the coal ash site. Commissioner Seiber stated that he wished the County Commission had thought earlier about a wheel tax to increase revenue, but said he knew his constituents were against it.
Mayor Elect Kenneth Carey noted that he had always voted ‘No’ on tax increases and that his election to CountyMayor seat confirmed his position. He believes this budget problem was due to a lack of planning. He stated he has some ideas to increase revenues that he will present, but that they won’t help until next year.
At 5:52 the work session was adjourned. At approximately 6:04, the special called meeting of the Board of Commissioners was called to order. The only topics for discussion allowed were the 2010 – 2011 tax levy and the budget.
Commissioner Safdie made a motion to pass the tax levy of $1.425, which would include the 9.5 cents discussed earlier, and to move the required funds for the library from the fund balance. The motion passed 11 – 6. Voting ‘Yes’ were Inman, Safdie, Hyder, Tollett, Gibson, Wilson, Carter, Harvel, Brown, Cramer, and Lynch. Voting ‘No’ were Presley, Seiber, Davis, Kerley, Carey, and Maxwell. Commissioner Sabine was unable to attend.
Next, a motion was made by Tollett and seconded by Carter to pass the budget presented by the Budget Committee, with the required funds for the library moved from the fund balance. Voting ‘Yes’ were Inman, Safdie, Hyder, Tollett, Gibson, Wilson, Carter, Harvel, Brown, Cramer, and Lynch. Voting ‘No’ were Presley, Seiber, Davis, Kerley, and Maxwell. Commissioner Carey passed, and Commissioner Sabine was absent.
A motion to adjourn was made and passed at approximately 6:12. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to contact me.