Lack of school numbers slows Sullivan budget process

J. H. Osborne • May 11, 2007 at 9:12 AM

BLOUNTVILLE - Sullivan County's annual budget process lurched a little Thursday, with some indication a budget might not be ready when fiscal year 2008 begins July 1.

News that the county's school system won't submit a budget request until sometime next month left the Sullivan County Commission's Budget Committee sort of on hold.

"I'd mentioned we might need to have a called meeting in a couple of weeks," Budget Committee Chairman Eddie Williams said. "But we'll have to wait on the school system, so we can just have our regular meeting."

The committee's standing meeting time is the first Thursday of each month, sometimes adjusted to the second Thursday.

At last night's meeting, Director of Sullivan County Schools Glenn Arwood said the Sullivan County Board of Education would not complete its budget process until at least the end of this month - due to ongoing contract negotiations with teachers.

Arwood said the largest part of that process has been agreed to - a proposed 5.25 percent raise - but the contract hasn't been ratified.

Arwood also presented requests to spend more than $1.1 million from the school system's undesignated fund balance.

The Budget Committee gave the requests a thumbs-up, meaning it will recommend approval of the spending to the full commission later this month.

The requests included:

•$590,000 to "meet current and future expenditures in the school capital projects fund that exceeded the current budget," for "a section of roof at Central High School and paving and parking lots and roads at Bluff City Elementary School, North High School, South High School, and Sullivan Middle School," and "boilers for Cedar Grove Elementary School, Kingsley Elementary School and Mary Hughes Elementary/Middle School, etc."

•$556,000 to "meet expenditures in the general purpose school fund that will exceed the current budget" in workers' compensation, for the replacement of dishwasher and steam cooking equipment in various schools, to cover increased food cost in food supplies, and repair of floors, ceilings and walls at Blountville Middle School.

The Budget Committee also endorsed a resolution to authorize a continuing budget - a move that allows county government to continue operating at this year's budget level if a fiscal year 2008 budget isn't in place when the fiscal year begins, including borrowing money in anticipation of tax revenues.

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