No salary increases in county budget proposal

Finance Committee set to review it

By AUTUMN HUGHES
Posted 6/2/20

For the first time since March, the Bradley County Commission met in-person at the Courthouse, bringing together all 14 commissioners in one room to conduct business.

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No salary increases in county budget proposal

Finance Committee set to review it

MEMBERS of the Bradley County Commission observed social distancing during Monday night’s meeting, the first in-person session since March. On the front row, from left, are commissioners Louie Alford, Milan Blake, Charlotte Peak, Bobby Goins, Tim Mason and Kevin Raper. On the back row, from left, are Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, Commissioner Mike Hughes, Vice Chairman Thomas Crye, Chairman Johnny Mull, and commissioners Howard Thompson, Cindy Slater and Erica Davis. Present, but not pictured, are commissioners Dennis Epperson and Bill Winters.
MEMBERS of the Bradley County Commission observed social distancing during Monday night’s meeting, the first in-person session since March. On the front row, from left, are commissioners Louie Alford, Milan Blake, Charlotte Peak, Bobby Goins, Tim Mason and Kevin Raper. On the back row, from left, are Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, Commissioner Mike Hughes, Vice Chairman Thomas Crye, Chairman Johnny Mull, and commissioners Howard Thompson, Cindy Slater and Erica Davis. Present, but not pictured, are commissioners Dennis Epperson and Bill Winters.
Banner photo, AUTUMN HUGHES
Posted

For the first time since March, the Bradley County Commission met in-person at the Courthouse, bringing together all 14 commissioners in one room to conduct business.

The most anticipated part of the meeting was to hear Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis present his 2020-21 budget proposal.

Chairman Johnny Mull welcomed commissioners and the public back “from our hibernation of COVID-19” for the meeting. Mull noted he consulted with the Bradley County Health Department and the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency in preparing for the meeting, to determine proper social-distancing measures for the meeting.

In addition, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office posted a heightened law enforcement presence at the meeting, with officers stationed both inside and outside the courthouse.

Nationwide protests and attacks over the weekend on courthouses in Chattanooga and Nashville may have put law enforcement on alert, but it was quiet and orderly both inside and outside the courthouse during the course of the two-hour meeting.

Launching into the meeting agenda, Davis presented his $193 million budget proposal for the 2020-21 budget year to commissioners.

“I’m being pretty optimistic in the budget numbers for next year,” Davis said.

He also acknowledged a nationwide “gloom and doom” outlook in unemployment, with 800,000 jobs lost in local governments across the country.

“We haven’t lost a single job,” Davis said of Bradley County government. “There’s no salary increase in my proposal, but there’s also no layoffs.

“We haven’t furloughed anybody, we don’t plan on furloughing anybody,” he said.

However, the projected revenues don’t justify giving raises or hiring any new employees, he noted.

Davis also reminded commissioners that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has asked all state agencies to find ways to slash their budgets by 12% and has discussed eliminating funds in the 2020-21 budget for raises.

Davis said his proposal includes a $1.3 million increase to the overall budget in both revenues and expenditures.

Mayor explains

revenue numbers

for new budget

Davis said Bradley County’s property tax revenue is up — in an interview last week with the Cleveland Daily Banner, Davis noted those taxes were due long before the economic impact from COVID-19 restrictions was realized. He added Monday night that he budgets for 95% collection of property taxes, but around 96% usually is paid.

“I am projecting sales tax to meet the budget,” Davis added, noting Bradley County’s sales tax revenues were 35% ahead of budget projections in February.

“It has given us a cushion to help us get through March, April and May,” he said.

While property tax revenue is up and sales tax revenue is projected to meet budget this year, Hotel-Motel Tax and court revenues are down. Davis said Hotel-Motel Tax looks down by about 7% to 9% and he is projecting no increase for next budget year.

In regard to courts, Davis reiterated comments in last week’s Banner interview projecting General Fund revenue to be down by approximately $600,000 for the current budget year, including from across-the-board drops in court fees.

Expenditures do 

not include

salary increases

Davis said several expenditures in multiple line items were removed and put into a grant request the county commission approved two weeks ago. Commissioners approved a resolution requesting the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration grant initial approval to fund $1,327,645 from the Governor’s Local Government Support Grants.

In that request are $700,000 for road projects; $170,000 for emergency services; $359,000 for building improvements; $83,000 for law enforcement equipment; and $15,645 for courthouse improvements to address COVID-19.

Davis also touched on other expenditures for equipment and other costs, but reiterated there is no salary increase in his budget proposal.

“We just don’t have the money for raises,” Davis said.

The county commission’s Finance Committee will meet at 9 a.m. Thursday to review the mayor’s budget proposal and make its own recommendations; the committee will reconvene at 9 a.m. Friday, if necessary to continue its work. The full county commission is scheduled to vote on the 2020-21 budget during its July 6 meeting.

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