County budget will be presented June 17

Last Thursday, June 6, the Anderson County Budget Committee approved recommendations, which if passed by full commission, will require an 18.25 cent property tax increase for county residents.

The committee revised its recommendations from last month’s meeting, reducing the increase for the Sheriff’s department after Sheriff Barker and his team came back with some proposals which lowered their original requested amount of 8.3 cents.

The Sheriff has been making the case for opening the currently unoccupied 128 bed Unit 1 for several months now.

The Tennessee Corrections Institute deems the Anderson County facility at full capacity when its reaches 370 inmates and as of June 8, there were 412 inmates.

The county runs the risk of decertification from the Department of Corrections if it stays overcrowded, which opens the county up to litigation.

Anderson County Schools were approved for an increase after initially being turned down last month.

Their increase will allow for every employee to receive a $1,000 pay raise, and will allow the schools to continue funding capital outlay projects without having to make any cuts to programs such as band or coaching stipends.

Dr. Parrott’s proposal would actually put the school system in a position NOT to have to take out additional debt for capital projects in about a decade. He also doesn’t foresee needing to ask commission for an increase anytime soon if this budget passes.

Here is the break down of the proposed 18.25 cent tax increase, (one cent equals $162,000 on the property tax levy in Anderson County):

Sheriff/Jail — 6.75 cents

Schools — 6 cents

Non-School County Employee Pay Raises 3-cents

Solid Waste 1-cent. (This is to fund two additional staff positions as well as address long term rising landfill shipping costs.

The contract Anderson County has for that service is tied to the consumer price index and is projected to be much larger portion of the Solid Waste over the next several years.

Capital Projects Fund - 1.5-cents.

This fund is for the purchase and maintenance of the county’s fixed assets, buildings, vehicles etc.

Here’s how an 18.25-cent property tax increase translates to actual dollars for a typical Anderson County Resident:

Median Value of a home in Anderson County: $150,000

Residential Assessment is 25-percent

Additional 18.25-cents per $100 of assessed value

That would mean:

150,000 x 25-percent /100 x .1825 tax increase = $68 more per year or $5.67 more per month.

Understandably, no one really “wants” a property tax increase, and this year, the prospect of an increase is compounded by that fact residents in Oak Ridge and Norris are already facing increases in their city property taxes.

While some people typically suggest across the board cuts during tough budget times, maintenance of effort statutes from the state make it impossible for commission to cut spending to school systems and sheriffs’ departments below the level they were funded the prior year. The only exception would be decreased student enrollment for schools.

Personally, I feel like the departments have all done their due diligence in making cuts where they could, and have asked for critical needs only.

Please consider attending the public hearing on the proposed FY2019/2020 budget which is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, June 17, and voice your opinion.

Joshua Anderson

County Commissioner, District 3