Loudon County Commission is mere weeks from voting on a “good” 2021-22 fiscal year budget.
A public hearing is set for 6 p.m. June 28 before the commission workshop at the Loudon County Courthouse Annex. Budget committee members will have a finalized document ready for consideration by full commission at 6 p.m. July 6 at the annex.
“It’s been a good budget cycle this time,” Van Shaver, county commissioner, said. “We always have challenges that we have to try to meet. We want to be sensitive to everybody’s request. We think we’ve done a good job providing as much as we can to as many departments as we can, but I think this is a good budget.
“... One of the things that we’re really proud of is to be able to do $1,000 raises — that was real important to all of us to try to show all of our employees we appreciate the work they’ve done,” he added. “We were able to give some departments new staffing that they had requested. Everybody didn’t get everything they wanted, but we were able to give a little bit here and there and maybe in the years to come we’ll be able to give more and that sort of stuff. The ability to help with our employment within the county was real important to all of us.”
The County General Fund’s ending balance for this year is estimated at $8.2 million, Tracy Blair, county budget director, said.
“I still think we’re very solid,” Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw, Loudon County mayor, said. “A lot of time went into it — we’ve been a little bit more giving I’d say with this budget. Revenues have just absolutely been incredible throughout the year, so I think we’ve been able to address some issues and at the same time still be fiscally responsible.”
Included in the budget are a $1,000 annual wage increase for all full-time employees and a 2% increase for part-time employees.
Bradshaw said the move will hopefully retain staff.
“I think if you look, most of our part time are either — we’ve got a few — but a lot of our part-timers are students or retirees and it’s not folks that depend on it so they’re getting a 2%,” Bradshaw said. “Then if you look at our full-time employees where we’re losing folks at is our new employees, our two-years-and-under employees, and so I think we give them that boost and that’s going to be make it more competitive. There’s going to be around 25 or so that’s not going to get the same as if it was a 2% that are longer served, but I think it helps keep our new employees here instead of us training them up and then them finding a better job somewhere else.”
Seven additional full-time employees are being recommended, including one each for the property assessor, county clerk’s office and recycling center, three corrections officers at the jail and either a patrol deputy or investigator.
The proposal also includes $200,000 Adequate Facilities Tax for education capital projects.
The anticipated certified tax rate is $1.5160, with a penny value of $225,256. Bradshaw hopes to have approval from the state for those rates this month.
“Depending on the state and how backed up they are,” Bradshaw said. “This will be the first time since I’ve been in office that we’ll miss our July 1 deadline, but that’s just part of doing the business. I think we’ve still got a good track record and hopefully the state will get that to us pretty quick.”
Shaver doesn’t believe a decision to vote in July will make a difference.
“In my course of being here we’ve been up into September, late in September getting them done,” Shaver said. “The lack of the ability to get it passed by the end of June has nothing to do with any budgeting issues whatsoever. It’s a matter of wanting to get the certified tax rate official from the state before we do it so we don’t have to have two separate meetings. It’s always late coming in on appraisal years, so a week’s delay is of no consequence whatsoever.”
The delayed vote will also allow all commissioners to be present, which is something commission chairman Henry Cullen wants.
“I won’t adopt without everybody there,” Cullen said.