Kingsport Times News Friday, August 28, 2015

Local News

Sullivan struggling through lean times, as 'cash is very, very low'

April 24th, 2012 11:00 pm by J. H. Osborne

BLOUNTVILLE — Time and time again in recent years, Sullivan County officials have pointed to the lack of layoffs from the county’s payroll as an accomplishment in what has been a lean economy.

Now, after years of refusing to consider a tax increase — and depending on fund balances to balance the yearly budget — some county officials say the accomplishment will be just meeting payroll for the next few months.

Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey has issued a memorandum to all county department heads requesting they curtail all but “emergency” purchases until at least July 1, when the next budget cycle begins.

“Thank you so much for your efficiency and cooperation in this endeavor,” Godsey wrote. “The nationwide slowing of the economy these past three years has affected all of us, and we want to be extra responsible and very cautious in handling the county funds. Hopefully next year’s national business climate will be improved so that both Tennessee and Sullivan County will see fruits of the labors we have put in to bring success to all of us.”

The Times-News asked County Trustee Frances Harrell just how bad is the county’s cash flow situation?

“We haven’t been in this predicament in a long time,” Harrell said. “It’s not a good picture for Sullivan County right now.”

Sullivan County’s fiscal year runs from July 1 of one year through June 30 of the following year.

Both Harrell and interim Accounts and Budgets Director Gayvern Moore said the priority now is to meet payroll until July 1.

For the county’s general fund alone, that will require more than $6 million, Harrell and Moore said — and only $7 million is currently on hand to cover all spending by general fund departments, including all non-payroll expenses such as utilities and fuel costs.

The county’s biggest revenue boost comes each year when property taxes are paid. The deadline for the current budget cycle passed several weeks ago — so another boost from that revenue stream isn’t expected until next year’s property tax notices are mailed and payments begin to trickle in next fall and winter.

“Cash is very, very low,” Moore said.

Harrell said revenue to the general fund this month, to date, is around $129,000 — and will likely continue coming in at a similar rate in May and June.

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