Committee Stuck On 20-Cent Property Tax Hike
Saturday, August 6, 2011 7:00 am
When the Cannon County Commission meets again in two weeks it will be faced with the same decision as a month ago - whether or not to raise the property tax rate 20 cents to fund the current year's proposed budget.
At a meeting Thursday night at the Cannon County Courthouse, the question before the Commission's Budget Committee was what could it present as a budget recommendation to the full Commission.
The answer was quite simple to recommend the same budget recommendation it presented that was put on hold back in July.
At that time, Commissioner Kevin George made a motion to table the budget until the County got final figures in for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Seven Cannon County Commissioners were in attendance at the Courthouse as the Cannon County Budget Committee met for a 13th time and the first time after the Cannon County Commissioners tabled the action back on July 16th.
In addition to Mark Barker, Kevin George, and Clint Higgins, who also serve on the Budget Committee, Commissioners
Tony Neal, Todd Hollandsworth, Kevin Mooneyham, and Russell Reed were in the audience. Bill Jennings and James Adkins, the other two Budget Committee members, were also present for the meeting.
The meeting started out with Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon going over the revenue with the up-to-date figures from the closing of the fiscal year 2010-2011. 23 line items saw an actual figure increase compared to those which were estimated a month ago. The net gain of the actual figures totaled out at $62,375 more than what was estimated.
The total revenue figure for 2010-2011 is $5,732,852. Since the final figures for the 2010-2011 were in, the Executive's Office was able to put together new estimated revenue numbers based on what was actually done during the last fiscal year. The estimated revenue for the fiscal year 2011-2012 was estimated $29,000 lower with the final figures in place than the estimated figures.
The fund balance at the end of the 2010-2011 fiscal year was $579,664. The estimated fund balance was increased $33,375. The expenditures stayed the same at $5,357,833. The estimated fund balance at the end of fiscal year 2011-2012 is $324,448.
Chairman Mark Barker looked at the expenditures again and started asking the Committee for adjustments. First office looked at was the Cannon County Election Commission office which has more estimated expenditures than last year. Election Administrator Stan Dobson told the Committee that the budget is balanced out by money the State gives the Election office and money that the town of Woodbury and Auburntown pays.
Dobson noted that the committee took $10,000 out of contracted services which was for Vo-Tec, a vendor that helps set up for elections. Chairman Barker said that the budget recommendation for the office stayed the same from the last budget meeting and the cuts came from $185,000. The Committee left it at the $165,000 without giving the $10,000.
Chairman Barker continued to go down the list highlighting the county offices that showed an increase in spending. Mr. Barker would also stop at each section and ask the committee for questions and suggestions. No new suggestions were made.
After going through the revenue figures one more time, Chairman Barker asked the commissioners in the audience for questions and suggestions.
After no one spoke up, Chairman Barker moved on to suggestions to fund the budget.
"Can we ask the people that own $100,000 houses to pay one more dollar a week, to fund the services they already want?"
Barker asked the rest of the committee and the commissioners if they could vote for the 20-cent increase. He pointed out there was hardly any luxuries at all in the budget.
Commissioner Todd Hollandsworth handed out figures that show what property owners would pay if there was a 20-cent property tax increase. Chairman Barker asked Kevin Mooneyham if he felt that he could give a thumbs up and support the 20 cent increase.
"Well," Mooneyham responded, "I've got a question that I want to ask before I answer yours."
Mooneyham continued and asked a question directed toward Kevin George.
"Kevin George wanted to put this on the table and we all agreed to it until he got the final figures. I'm going to ask him this question personally, Kevin are you satisfied with what you got before you right now?"
George answered, "No." Mooneyham asked, "Why haven't you spoke up and said anything tonight?" George countered, "I don't see the point. I just think it's awful convenient that the revenue numbers got changed on both sides to make it where it's $30,000 difference instead of the $76,000 or whatever that it really was."
County Executive Mike Gannon got after Kevin George and asked, "What are you insinuating?" Gannon then clearly explained, "I'm giving you the numbers that come into our office. The lady that does that, you've done insulted once. She has a college degree in business."
Gannon continued, "You've insulted her and you've insulted me. You don't know what you're talking about. I can give you the figures to the best of my ability. If you don't understand the budget there's something wrong with you"
Chairman Barker, not skipping a beat, asked George if he could support the tax increase and he again responded no.
After more heated exchanges between George and Gannon, Committee member Bill Jennings spoke up and said, "The motion has been made that we present the commissioners the 20-percent tax increase to fund the budget."
Clint Higgins seconded the motion. The motion passed 4 to 1 with Kevin George voting against the recommendation.
Mooneyham said he doesn't see any way around the budget recommendation and the funding recommendation.
Russell Reed said that he would have to think about it as right now at the meeting he couldn't make a decision.
The recommendation will now go before the full Cannon County Commission in a special called session. The date of that session is tentatively set for Monday, Aug. 22, according to County Executive Gannon.