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Sullivan Commission OKs budget

J. H. Osborne • Aug 19, 2014 at 8:29 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Commission approved a budget Monday for the fiscal year that began seven weeks ago and runs through June 30 of next year. After the vote to approve the budget, a single commissioner asked for the bottom line. The county's budget director said it is about $163.9 million. The budget is based on the same county property tax rate as last year: $2.3054. But it projects each penny of the tax rate is worth about $6,000 more than a penny was worth last year. That's based on the estimated countywide assessment having grown $63 million in the past year, — from $3.601 billion to $3.664 billion. Last year, each penny of the county's property tax rate was projected to generate $345,716 in revenue, based on an estimated collection rate of 96 percent. Total take: $79.7 million. This year, with the same estimated collection rate, each penny is projected to generate $351,769 in revenue. Total take: nearly $81.1 million. The biggest chunk of that property tax revenue — more than $50.5 million — will go to schools. The second biggest chunk will go to the county's general fund. The general fund, which includes such services as public safety, courts, and administration, will receive $23.27 million from the county property tax rate, up from the $22.87 million appropriated at the start of last fiscal year. Including state, federal and other funding, the budget proposal projects total revenue for the general fund of $48.7 million — up from $47.6 million last year. Those figures include money directed to the general fund from the account's "surplus." The budget approved Monday balances the general fund with more than $2 million from surplus, compared to $1.2 million in surplus used to balance the general fund last year. The Sullivan County Highway Department, which does not perform work inside the cities, will receive an estimated $2.77 million from the county property tax (which is also paid by city residents) for the current year. The county highway department's total budget of $10,146,101 is down from last year's appropriation of $10,316,280 — thanks largely to a reduction of $250,000 in personnel and benefits accounts. Because city property owners do pay county taxes — and the cities of Kingsport and Bristol operate their own school systems — county property tax revenue is split among the school systems based on average daily attendance. That split means that although the overall portion of the county tax rate going to schools is increasing, based on the budget proposal, the share going to the county's school system will drop slightly — because attendance continues to shift from county schools to city schools in Bristol and Kingsport. The split last year: Sullivan County Schools, 50.85 percent; Kingsport City Schools, 30.33 percent ; and Bristol City Schools, 18.82 percent. The split this year: Sullivan County Schools, 49.61 percent; Kingsport City Schools, 31.3308 percent; and Bristol City Schools, 19.0592 percent. This year's property-tax-generated general purpose school funding split in dollars: Sullivan County, $23,921,452; Kingsport City Schools, $15,107,402; and Bristol Tennessee City Schools, $9,190,158. This year's property-tax-generated school capital outlay funding split in dollars: Sullivan County, $1,163,448; Kingsport City Schools, $734,766; and Bristol Tennessee City Schools, $446,974. In addition to schools, general fund and highway funding, Sullivan County's property tax will generate revenue for the county's solid waste department ($702,860), and the county's debt service fund ($3,789,183).

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