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September 6th, 2007 12:00 am by J. H. Osborne

BLOUNTVILLE — Nonprofit organizations which receive funding from Sullivan County have been filing audits or other financial statements each year, the county’s top finance officer said Thursday.

But they’ve been delivering the documents to the county courthouse, not the county clerk’s office.

State law calls for delivery to the latter.

Commissioner Eddie Williams, chairman of the County Commission’s Budget Committee, said a consensus was reached several years ago, however, for the audits to be filed with the accounts and budgets office at the courthouse.

The lack of any audits on file with the clerk’s office had earlier this week led some commissioners to ponder withholding county funds from the nonprofits.

Commissioner Elliott Kilgore is a sponsor of a resolution calling for two random audits each year of the 50 organizations the county helps fund.

At a Budget Committee meeting Thursday, Kilgore said he will leave the proposal on the county commission’s agenda this month — but will likely amend it somewhat in light of news about the audits being on file with the accounts and budgets office.

Kilgore said his main point on the issue is the county has a responsibility to examine any county-funded organization if questions arise about financial management. He said he did not raise the issue because of any particular organization.

The county’s proposed budget includes more than $2 million in contributions to such organizations, which include volunteer and city fire departments, health and human service agencies, libraries, tourism promotion, and services for veterans and the handicapped.

A public hearing on the proposed budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 lasted less than 10 minutes Thursday.

It might have lasted longer, if even a single member of the general public showed up to ask a question or offer a comment.

As it was, the only person who asked to speak was County Commissioner Wayne McConnell.

He said he plans to propose amending the budget proposal when it comes for a vote by the full county commission later this month.

He wants to take tax dollars from school spending and give them to the county’s highway department and general fund. Four cents of the county’s property tax rate would be taken from school funding — schools currently get $1.587 of the county’s $2.53 tax rate — and the highway department and the general fund would receive an additional two cents each, McConnell said.

As proposed, the tax rate will be split the same as last year:

• General Fund — 67.3 cents.

• Solid Waste — 2.4 cents.

• Health — 3.8 cents.

• Highway — 4.7

• School General (shared with city school systems based on average attendance) — $1.587.

• School Capital Projects (also shared with city systems based on average attendance) — 8 cents.

• Debt Service — 8.1 cents.

Money directed to schools from the county’s property tax rate is shared with city school systems because city residents also pay county property taxes.

The Sullivan County Commission is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Sept. 17 on the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse.

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