This year's county budget is basically a repeat of last year as departments were asked to hold the line on the 4 percent cuts that were made in the 2010-11 budget. No cuts were requested this year and many department heads said they could hold their spending to last year's levels. The exceptions are the Sheriff's Department and Jail which is projected to receive a combined increase of $528,000 in its 2011-2012 budget. Other increases include: County Coroner/Medical Examiner, $30,000; Juvenile Services, $14,000; Juvenile Detention Center, $1,500; and Emergency Management Agency, $1,000. These increases are before salary increases and insurance adjustments.
Budget revenue projections for the county are expected to see a minimal increase for the coming fiscal year. It will take time for the industrial growth we've seen in the past year or two to be transformed into revenue for the county. That is why my overall budget proposal reflects only a slight increase over last year. The general fund would be $31,795,728 which is a 2.4 percent increase over last year. This would meet the county's policy of maintaining a 10 percent reserve fund balance. I believe the revenue will be enough to allow me to fulfill one of my priorities. If approved by the Commission on July 18, all full-time county employees will receive a 1.6 percent raise, the first in four years.
The Bradley County School System will see an increase of $1,821,000 in its funds. This is due to minimal projected increases in property tax and local option sales tax revenue. This includes more than $1 million in education funds provided by the state of Tennessee.
The proposed budget also contains community development funds and capital projects, funds to meet previous commitments to Whirlpool, Wacker, the new APD-40 interchange at Exit 20 and others.
I want to thank the elected county officials and department heads for their cooperation in helping hold the line on spending. The modest increases in the budget are a reflection of our hard work and tight budgeting during the past three years.
The economy has placed Bradley County in a long-term financial challenge and we cannot assume strong growth in local sales tax revenues to offset the rising costs of existing programs as in years past. However, there are strong indications the local economy is improving. Hundreds of industrial construction jobs at Wacker, Whirlpool and Amazon are benefiting the community. As these industries come on line over the next two years we should see an increase in county revenue.
I am proud that, once again, due to our strong fiscal controls and good management practices, Bradley County has maintained its AA- bond rating and received the “Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.” This prestigious award is presented by the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada. Bradley County is one of just 17 local governments in Tennessee to be honored by GFOA.
I want to commend the County Commission for their support as well as my Finance Department staff for their hard work in helping me with these accomplishments.
We will continue to do whatever we can to provide our citizens with the best government and services possible at the lowest possible cost.