Mayor proposes $125M county budget
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Jun 04, 2013 | 990 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bradley County Commission took its first look at Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis’ $125,292,000 budget proposal for the 2013-14 fiscal year Monday.

Davis said the budget proposal increases the general fund balance from 10 percent of the budget to 13 percent without raising taxes.

Full-time county employees would receive a 1.5 percent increase. Judges would receive a state-required 2.1 percent increase.

“Although we are unable to expand services this year, this is a budget that will continue the same level of services that our constituents have come to expect, without a tax increase,” Davis said.

Davis said he accomplished his five goals with the budget presentation. His goals were to grow the general fund balance, give county employees a raise, provide some additional funding to Bradley County 911 and pay down the county’s debt without raising property taxes.

The budget also pays $4.1 million of the county’s current debt.

Approximately $100,000 is being offered to Bradley County 911, if the city provides matching funds. Bradley County 911 had requested $288,000.

The 911 Center is in danger of being taken over by the state if it is not financially solvent this year. Bradley County 911 Center personnel have said in the past that how the centers are funded needs to be addressed at the state level.

Bradley County Law Enforcement accounts for 41 percent of the budget proposal.

Davis said funding for one new school resource officer position and one probation officer are included in the budget proposal.

The budget proposal will be further reviewed by the Bradley County Finance Committee Thursday. A final vote on the budget is set for July 1.

A resolution that if passed would have increased the Bradley County property tax rate by the amount necessary to renovate and build a new academic building at Lake Forest Middle School was removed from the agenda by Third District Commissioner Jeff Morelock. The resolution did not list an exact percentage increase.

Morelock said he removed the item from the agenda so commissioners could have more time to think about it in light of the budget proposal. He also said he would like commissioners who were absent to have “input” on the vote. Commissioners J. Adam Lowe and Robert Rominger were absent.

The issue is expected to be addressed at the next voting session.

Bradley County Schools receives 58 percent of the revenue from property taxes.

The Commission passed a motion asking for an official answer from the Bradley County Board of Education as to whether it could commit any funding to the Lake Forest project or not.

The request will be made through education committee chairman Lowe.

Originally, the resolution was worded “to request a Board of Education financial commitment for Lake Forest Middle School.”

“We just want to see some kind of involvement, some kind of financial commitment from them,” said 4th District Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones.

Seventh District Commissioner Bill Winters said the school system was contributing to the project.

“I do think that the Bradley County School board is committed to already working on Lake Forest ... they have roofs to be done, commitments on maintenance,” Winters said.

These commitments have been addressed in the school system’s budget proposal as immediate needs.

Potential energy savings from renovating the building were listed as a source of revenue the school system could commit toward paying back the debt incurred from rebuilding the school, Peak-Jones said.

Morelock said school board members have said in the past that the school system does not have any funding it can commit to the project.

Peak-Jones said she wanted an official answer from the school board as a whole, not just a few members.

Fifth District Commissioner Jeff Yarber amended the motion to reflect Peak-Jones’ request.

Commission Chairman Louie Alford and Winters voted against the motion. They, along with a few other commissioners, held that the school board members had already made it clear the school system could not commit funding to the project.