County Commission Unanimously Passes $672.5 Million Budget With No Tax Increase

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The County Commission on Wednesday morning unanimously approved a no-tax-increase budget that includes $7.2 million in higher spending.

The county budget of $672,535,000 includes a 2.5 percent pay increase for employees. City employees got 1.5 percent raises.

Chairman Fred Skillern said the county has fewer employees and vehicles than the previous year.

He said health insurance has been the highest budget item in growth by far. That expense has been covered "by growth and savings," he said.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said, "This budget is a reflection of my fiscally conservative beliefs.  We have held the line on taxes for the fourth year in a row. Homeowners will not have to worry about an increase in their property taxes, business owners know they can go ahead and budget for the next fiscal year know their tax rate remains the same as it has been since I took office in 2011.”

He said the budget focuses on "education and public safety." He said 59.4 percent of county spending is going to the schools and the sheriff 's budget is up $1.9 million for operations. The county schools will get a $5.1 million increase to $399 million.

The higher sheriff funding will allow the hiring of eight new correctional officers at the county jail at a cost of $454,000. It funds 30 new sheriff vehicles.

The county mayor said there will be four fewer employees in county government - down from 1,319 to 1,315. He said two positions are down in the property assessor's office after a reappraisal was finished. General Sessions Court Judge Ron Durby, who has been getting county disability payments, is now off the payroll. The Criminal Court clerk's office is down one employee.

County Mayor Coppinger said medical costs are up 12 percent - a rise of $2.4 million.

He said the controversial $100,000 each for the nine County Commission members for "discretionary spending" is going off the county books. It will be taken from a line of credit.

To meet the budget, $2.6 million is being taken from the county fund balance, $2 million from the county schools fund balance and $600,000 from the sheriff and Juvenile Court clerk fund balances.

The county mayor said the county in the current year set aside $3.5 million from fund balance, but wound up not using any of that amount.

The budget anticipates a rise in property tax revenue of $2.3 million, an increase in EPB in-lieu-of-taxes payments of $419,000, and a rise of $391,000 in state taxes, including the Hall Tax.

Pension costs are up $2 million, while debt service costs are down $2.67 million.

31,490 Cast Ballots In First 6 Days Of Early Voting In Hamilton County

In the first six days of early voting in Hamilton County, 31,490 have already cast ballots. That includes 2,216 ballots received by mail. There were 5,157 who turned out at early voting sites on Wednesday and 5,083 on Thursday. The total on Friday was 5,011, and it was 3,818 on Saturday. The turnout on Monday was 5,552 and on Tuesday was 5,262. Sites: Brainerd ... (click for more)

State Election Officials To East Tennessee To Promote Early Voting

Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins will visit multiple county election commissions and polling locations across east Tennessee to promote early voting on  Wednesday  and  Thursday . This is the second of three trips where Secretary Hargett and Coordinator Goins will visit 21 counties ahead of the  Nov. 8  general ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Picture a sold-out baseball game at Wrigley Field or Nationals Park packed with 40,000 fans. That image represents roughly the same number of women and men who die from breast cancer each year.  In Tennessee alone, an estimated 900 women will die from the disease in 2016. It is a sad statistic, but there is some good news: thanks to early detection and improved treatments, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What Southerners Sing

Barry Norris plays the organ at Birmingham’s East Lake United Methodist Church and two days ago the church hosted what we used to call “A Singing on the Grounds.” Today it is called a “Hymnfest” and, believe it or not, it is has to be just as fun today as it was 100 years ago when our forefathers tied their horse and wagon to a tree. It just so happens I know a little bit about ... (click for more)

Taylor Luthringer, Thomas Porter Win Region Cross Country

COOKEVILLE – Tuesday was a pretty good day for the Signal Mountain cross country teams. Not only did they celebrate with both individual winners in the Region 4-A/AA races, but both teams finished in the top three and will advance to the state meet, which will be held as Nashville’s Percy Warner Park next Saturday. Taylor Luthringer and Thomas Porter captured the individual ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Draws Top Ranked Greeneville, CCS Opens With Madison Magnet

For the second year in a row, Notre Dame drew the top-ranked Greeneville in the opening round of the TSSAA Class A/AA state tournament.  Notre Dame is scheduled to play Greeneville on Wednesday at 8 p m. (EST)  in Murfreesboro. CCS will play Madison Magnet in the first round on field #1 at 7:30 p.m. (EST) . CCS and Greeneville met in the state championship game ... (click for more)