Sullivan County Commission slates 'first reading' of budget plan

J. H. Osborne • Sep 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — With the county budget expected to be unveiled at Thursday’s called meeting of the Sullivan County Commission, the county’s top finance officer was planning a work-filled Labor Day weekend.

Accounts and Budgets Director Larry Bailey told the Times-News on Friday that he planned to work on the budget proposal — for the accounting year that began July 1 — throughout the holiday weekend.

The Sullivan County Commission’s Budget Committee voted Wednesday to recommend keeping the county’s property tax rate at $2.53 (per $100 of assessed value) for the budget year that began two months ago.

Bailey has been working to develop a budget based on that guideline, as well as a Budget Committee directive to leave all departmental spending at last year’s levels.

To become effective, the Budget Committee’s recommendation must be endorsed by a majority of the full commission.

By the time the budget comes for a vote by the full commission, amendments could be made.

Each penny of Sullivan County’s property tax rate will generate an estimated $283,337 for tax year 2008 — up nearly $7,000 from tax year 2007, according to information provided by Bailey.

That level of estimated growth will mean about $1.75 million in new revenue for the county from property taxes, Bailey said.

Most of that — about $1.15 million — would go to the three school systems in the county, including $432,000 for Sullivan County’s system.

With no budget in place for the new fiscal year, county government is operating on a “continuing” budget — meaning departments and organizations can spend at the same level as during the 12-month period that ended June 30.

Bailey has said some other revenue sources for the county are projected to increase this fiscal year. According to information distributed to the Budget Committee, the following revenue changes are estimated for the following budgetary control funds: general fund, up about $856,000; Highway Department, down $1.45 million; solid waste, up $355,000; Health Department, up $338,000; Emergency Medical Service, up $497,000; and Observation Knob Park, down $22,000.

Those figures are based on estimated expenditures for the year that ended June 30 compared to estimated revenues for the year that began July 1.

If the County Commission fails to submit an approved fiscal year 2009 budget to the state by Oct. 1, the state will withhold state funds.

State law requires publication of the budget in the newspaper at least 10 days prior to a vote. A public hearing is also required.

The Sullivan County Commission is scheduled to meet in called session at 9 a.m. Thursday, for “first reading” of the budget. That will clear the way for a potential vote on the budget when the commission meets in regular session Sept. 15 at 9:30 a.m.

The required public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 15.

All meetings listed are scheduled for the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse.

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