County looking at ‘what if’ over sales tax
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Oct 18, 2012 | 940 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An outlook for the future was a highlight of discussion during the Bradley County Finance Committee’s meeting Wednesday.

Possible implications of a final decision on the sales tax issue going in favor of the city of Cleveland were discussed.

Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said the committee needs to begin considering its options.

“Potentially, you’d be losing around $3 million a year in revenue if the court case goes the other way (in favor of the city),” Davis said.

The shortfall would be money that would no longer be going into the general fund. This would not affect the portion given to Bradley County Schools.

To replace this revenue would take a 16-cent property tax increase, according to Davis.

A list of jointly funded projects in anticipation of which one could be cut has been compiled.

“I’ve been the one that has been a proponent of the joint-funded agencies, but we are going to lose them if this goes the other way. Or you are going to have a tax increase,” Davis said.

During the meeting, finance committee chairman Ed Elkins asked committee member J. Adam Lowe to expand on the list by attaching the amount of the county’s contribution to each project. Elkins also requested a list of other discretionary spending.

Lowe pointed out that much of the county budget is in departments that cannot really be cut. He said the amount which realistically could be cut is between $6 million and $8 million.

“It’s a sizable hit,” Lowe said.

The Bradley County Commission and the Cleveland City Council are scheduled to have a joint meeting at noon on Oct. 31

- The finance committee also reviewed a resubmission of a budget amendment by the Circuit Court clerk. The amendment to move funding from a line item for part-time employees to the full-time deputy employees line item was initially denied at a previous meeting.

Elkins said he wanted more information before approving the amendment. Elkins had gathered more information in between the two meetings, however, the committee elected to delay voting on the amendment because of additional questions.

“I think there are some questions that maybe Gayla (Miller, Circuit Court clerk) can answer,” Elkins said.

This is the first budget year the part-time positions are listed in a separate line item. The two part-time employees have since resigned, and the elected office over the department wants to use the money to compensate the full-time employees who have undergone additional training and taken on additional workload.

Elkins pointed out the amendment does not increase the department’s funding, it simply rearranges the way it can be used.

He expressed concern that as the office is handling more work, an additional employee may be needed in the future. Lowe said he would like more information because he was absent when the amendment was initially discussed.

- The committee also approved two budget amendments to accept insurance payments to the county.