The Commission also voted to set the property tax rate at last year’s level of $1.79 per $100 of assessed value. I am glad that we are able to meet the obligations of the county and maintain the services that residents have come to expect without placing an additional tax burden on our citizens.
In voting to adopt the new budget, the County Commission included a restriction on new purchases. Section 12 of the budget resolution says “that new purchases approved under this budget should be delayed until after Jan. 1, 2013, except for emergency repair or replacement, due to the timing of revenue collections and to help with cash flows.” This means county departments must delay any and all new purchases until after Jan. 1.
Because of the continuing economic downturn, the county cannot assume strong growth in local sales tax revenues. However, the continued improvement in the county’s unemployment rate, which now stands at 7.9 percent, and the growth in both commercial and housing building permits, are signs that our local economy is improving somewhat. This will allow us to include a nominal pay increase of 1.6 percent for your county employees. It is important to show appreciation to our dedicated and hardworking employees.
The 2012-13 budget totals $133,028,864. Some 60.6 percent of this amount, which totals $68,781,000, is used to fully fund the operational needs of the Bradley County School System. This leaves a general fund of $32,313,882 which is $518,000 or 1.6 percent more than last year. Some 41 percent of the General Fund is allocated to the Sheriff’s Department to provide for public safety and operate the county jail. This budget meets the county’s policy of maintaining a minimum 10 percent reserve fund balance and actually increases the fund balance to 10.4 percent.
This $133 million budget will pay down the county’s debt by $3,767,000 and sets aside almost $1 million for the county’s portion of the cost of the new connector road near Exit 20 on APD 40. It also includes $3.5 million to cover the County Commission’s commitment to Wacker Chemi.
Funds to build and operate three new fire stations are also included in the new budget. These funds will come from the fringe area fire tax when the fire contract with the city expires in 2013.
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 19 local governments in Tennessee to be honored by GFOA.
I want to commend the County Commission, all elected officials, my department heads and my Finance Department staff for their support and hard work in helping me complete 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.
For those of you wishing to get a copy of the budget, it is available on the county's website at http://www.bradleyco.net/acct_budgets.aspx.