County Mayor Jim Coppinger on Wednesday presented 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 are set to get 1.5 percent. A number of city employees went before the City Council on Tuesday night saying the raise should be higher.
County Mayor Coppinger 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.