BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — The Sullivan County Commission’s Budget Committee wrapped up its work on the new spending plan Wednesday, voting to accept a proposed budget that’s close to $900,000 leaner than last year’s due to a variety of cuts.
The budget will next move to the full County Commission for final consideration.
While discussing the various pieces of the budget one last time before its final vote, the committee agreed to accept the new school budget from the Board of Education. The acceptance followed a lengthy and, at times, tense back-and-forth between the County Commission and the Board of Education over the school budget, with the commission repeatedly requesting clarifications about how certain school funds would be spent.
Larry Bailey, director of the county’s Accounts and Budgets department, said the board is not asking for any more money than it did last year and urged the Budget Committee to accept its proposal.
“It would be a positive gesture to move forward and get the past behind us, and know [the school department has] got a budget they should be able to live with, and we’ve not done anything to harm them,” Bailey said.
The rest of the proposed budget includes $895,383 in cuts, some as high as 2%, across different departments. The recommended budget for the Sheriff’s Office, for example, is $206,175 lower than last year’s, while the jail budget is $204,993 lower, and the property assessor’s is $47,897 lower.
Bailey said those reductions are an attempt to protect the county’s finances for what could be a challenging fiscal year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession.
“Revenues have dropped. People don’t know how much they’re going to make,” Bailey said. “We’re trying not to predict the worst case [scenario], but we know that we’ve got to be conservative with our estimates. We’ve not recovered fully.”
Bailey said that he now needs to finalize the budget for presentation to the County Commission and said he expects it to be ready at some point in August.
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