BLOUNTVILLE — It would take a 15 cent tax increase (per $100 of assessed value on real property) to fund Sullivan County government’s general fund for the coming year if all departments and organizations under the general fund get everything they’ve asked for, County Commissioner Eddie Williams said Tuesday.
Williams did not raise the possibility of a tax increase, and like pretty much everyone else in a room crowded with county officials, went on the record against such a notion.
Williams, longtime chairman of the Sullivan County Commission’s Budget Committee, was holding sway over a called “budget workshop” hosted by the committee but open to all. Williams did get the evening’s conversation started by sharing what he said are the latest figures on how much general fund recipients want — and how much money is projected to flow into county coffers in the next 12 months to pay the bills.
There’s a $5 million gap between the two, Williams said.
According to information distributed by county accounting staff:
• Updated general fund requests total nearly $48.3 million.
• General fund revenue is projected to total nearly $43.2 million.
• Total appropriations for general fund spending in the current budget were $46.42 million.
• General fund revenue this year was projected to total nearly $44.7 million — but is now estimated to generate only about $42 million by the end of the 12-month budget cycle on June 30.
“The whole commission needs to speak up so we know what everyone is thinking,” Williams said of the obvious two choices: raise taxes or cut funding.
“I think it’s crazy to even consider raising taxes,” said Register of Deeds Bart Long, pretty much summarizing most of the comments made by those at the workshop.
“It would be terribly irresponsible for any of us to be talking about tax increases without first talking about cuts,” said Commissioner Robert White.
“I agree with Bob,” said Commissioner Mark Bowery.
Commissioner Bill Kilgore said they all were saying just about the same thing he wanted to say, going on to sharpen the focus on looking for cuts to waste in existing funding.
“I’m not saying cut services,” Kilgore said. “I’m saying cut excess in (departmental) budgets — and all of them have some.”
Election Administrator Jason Booher urged the committee — and all departments — to search for ways to make county offices operate more efficiently, essentially doing more with less.
For the full report, see Wednesday's print or enhanced electronic version.