County Employees May Get 3% Raise
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Cannon County Government employees may receive a 3 percent raise this year.

Cannon County Schools may have as much as 6 cents moved from its share of the property tax rate, with the money transferred to the County General Fund.

Cannon County taxpayers may see an increase in the property tax this year of around 10 cents.

The Cannon County Commission may pass a budget for this fiscal year when it meets next Saturday (July 14) and set the property tax rate as well.

Then again, it may end up being the case that none of the aforementioned events transpire.

County employees have not received a raise in five years, but the County Commission’s Budget Committee has been mulling over recommending a FY2012-3013 budget with a raise in place.

One problem is the county’s Fund Balance is at a critical stage. Under optimal conditions the county would have one month of operating expenses on hand at all times. The projected average monthly expenditure for FY2012-2013 is $401,000.

Projected Revenues and Expenditures for FY2011-2012 were close to being accurate since the year ended June 30. Estimated Revenue is projected to end at $5,724,700, with final expenditures for 2011-2012 estimated at $5,860.639, leaving an Ending Fund Balance of $501,014.

Following last Thursday’s Budget Committee meeting, the estimated Ending Fund Balance as of June 30, 2013 sat at $60,000. If, due to the possibility Cannon County Schools may not need as much funding because of a decrease in the student population, and around 6 cents can be moved from its share of the property tax rate to the General Fund, the projected Ending Fund Balance would be $160,000.

Current figures show in FY2010-2011 the county spent $63,852 more than it raised; $135,939 more in the just-completed fiscal year; and at this point in the budgeting process is projected to outspend revenue by about $425,000 this year.

With figures added in for a 3 percent raise for county employees for this fiscal year, the Budget Committee looked to trim other expenses throughout the entire budget Thursday in anticipation of putting a recommendation together to present to the Cannon County Commissioners in time for its Saturday meeting.

The Budget Committee went through each department's budget and $41,500 in requests were either cut or eliminated. 

First on the elimination table was the $1,000 line item of Overtime in the Election Commission's request.

Most departments’ requests were left alone in this round of budget cuts; however, the Sheriff's Department budget felt the ax.

Overtime Pay was cut by $5,000 to $20,000. Communication was cut back to $15,000. The total trimming of $8,000 from the Sheriff's Department budget cut it from $935,674. to $927,674.

The Jail budget received a $5,000 cut on the request of Maintenance and Repair Services for buildings, going from $25,000 to $20,000.

The County Fire Department’s budget received the biggest cuts of the night.

Gasoline Budget was trimmed $2,000 from a requested $10,000. Uniforms were cut to $13,000. Office Supplies were knocked down to $500 and Other Charges got chopped $5,000 to leave the amount at $2,000.

The Committee then took a look at the county’s Contributions List (money given to outside agencies). The Cannon County Chamber of Commerce is requesting $10,000. After discussion, the general consensus of the Committee was to trim the request to $5,000, with an additional $1,200 awarded if the Chamber agrees to maintain the County Website. More details on that possibility will be discussed next Thursday.

The next meeting of the Cannon County Budget Committee will be Thursday, July 12th at 6:00 at the Cannon County Courthouse. The full County Commission will meet Saturday at 10 a.m.

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Members Opinions:
July 07, 2012 at 10:59am
WHY would they consider taking money AWAY from the school system? We have lost teaching necessary teaching positions. Why not use this money to fund these positions?

We have lost 1/2 of a music teacher. This means that there is no music program at the grammar schools. We have lost a high school science position. Last year we had LAB classes with over 35 students. You cannot safely conduct a lab with that many students. This is simply dangerous. We have lost positions at the grammar schools that have caused us to go back to having split classrooms.

A recent Cannon Courier poll indicated that many people believed the school system was not doing a good job. The schools are continually being asked to do more with less.

I understand that the commissioners are in a difficult spot with the budget. I respect the fact that they must make hard decisions, but those hard decisions should not mean that we continually make sacrifices on the backs of our students. These children are the future of our county. Please support them in their education. They deserve our best, so they will become our best. Our schools are an investment in our future. We will never grow and prosper if we keep sacrificing what is best for our future.

I pray that our leaders not only make the right decision for today, but also for tomorrow.
July 07, 2012 at 2:58pm
School system money obviously not appropriaded as needed . Please mrs. Choate explain the funding at Short mountain and East side small enrollment vs. enrollment at WGS and Woodland. Do you honestly believe that keeping the low enrollment schools open is beneficial to the tax payers of Cannon County
July 07, 2012 at 6:00pm
I have believed and still believe that a raise in either property taxes or sales taxes is needed but the majority of cannon county don't want a raise in taxes. Well, we cannot have great government services if we don't fund them. The county government can only operate on what we provide them.
July 07, 2012 at 8:22pm
GM, I am not an administrator, so I cannot speak to your question. I have heard arguments for both sides, and I agree with a little of both. I am in full support of a middle school. I think that would help us in so many ways.

I am still appalled that the commissioners would even consider taking away money. Do you know that after the school is allocated funds, the system has to pay a large amount of the money right back? The school system pays back $250,000 each year for the new WGS and other additions to schools. We also pay back an $80,000 fee to the Trustee for being the school system's banker. So whatever they "give" us, we have to pay them back over $300,000 of it!

I agree with DENVER01. You get what you pay for! Our kids deserve better.
July 08, 2012 at 1:45pm
This one last thing and I'll stop writing (maybe).
The county invests the school system's money, but the school system never receives a penny of the interest. I wonder what that interest is used for. Why not give it back to the school system?

July 08, 2012 at 7:34pm
Makes you wonder what happens to a lot of money going to the county.
jack
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July 09, 2012 at 6:42am
choateo I know you are a great teacher. I know you sincerely have the best interests of all of the students in Cannon County when you talk about our schools systems and I know you are passionate about all of that. For those reasons I have great respect for you and the teachers out there who are like you.

However, I was at the budget meeting the other night when the schools were being discussed and there are several reasons why the Commissioners would consider reducing the money.

There is so much to explain and it would take far too long, but I really suggest anyone who wonders about why money is being spent or taken away should attend those meetings. You will have several AHA moments when you listen to where and what is being spent. For example, $7500 in bonuses last year was given out by the schools at Christmas time while no one else in the county received anything. I am sure we have a Deputy or two that would have liked to have seen that $200 bonus.

As far as the combination of schools, I am on record for saying that is the most logical choice and most sensible choice.

I asked Mrs. Parker last year to give me a break down of the budget for each school. I was told there was not an individual school budget, but the approximate cost was $800,000 per school to keep each one open.

When you do the math (and I know you are good at that!) when you have a school that enrolls 145 students K-8 then we are paying roughly $5700 per student each year to keep those doors open.
Meanwhile, at Westside, Woodland and Woodbury we pay $2600 per student if we say each of those enroll 300 students K-8 and I believe that number would be low.

So are we saying that it cost more to educate students at Short Mountain or Eastside than it does in the other schools or are we saying that is just your good fortune if you go to one of those schools and your classroom size is ½ the size of the other schools?

How we can honestly continue to ignore that and not consolidate schools is beyond me. We do not have the money to continue to keep schools open simply because of tradition. It is not fair to the students or to the tax payers.
July 09, 2012 at 9:18am
Corey, thank you for your kind words.

I did not, nor have I ever, received a bonus. I don't know who does. I DO know that we are losing teaching positions.

I know all the reasons for and against keeping the smaller schools open. I agree with some of both sides.

All I know is that we are losing NECESSARY teaching positions, and the commission is considering TAKING AWAY MONEY!

I do not understand this at all. You are right, I should come to the meetings.

School starts in less than one month. We have a mathematics position open that has not even been posted. We are in danger of losing that position because of the tight budget. This is not a NEW position. This is a position that is already funded.

The math department at CCHS has made great strides the last three years with some great success. Our Algebra One AYP has risen 108% over the last three years. We still have a long way to go, but this is a start. We have been trying new things, such as an Algebra Lab for students struggling with math. Our Algebra Two scores are horrible. Our goal for this year is to improve those scores.

ALL OF THIS IS IN JEOPARDY if the vacant math position does not get filled. And, as I stated before, we are one science teacher short already. Our state and federal government is stressing the need for our students to be more math and science proficient.

For these reasons alone we should not be considering TAKING AWAY money.

Sorry about that. I was going to be quiet. Oh well.
July 09, 2012 at 10:30am
Question: If it costs $800,000 to keep each small school open...so does that amount apply to every grammar school? There's no way the operating costs (teacher salaries, maintenance, etc.) would be equal for all of the schools. Some schools have almost twice the number of teachers, so common sense tells me if it costs $800,000 to run the small schools, then it would have to be more to run a larger school.
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July 09, 2012 at 10:30am
The bonus was not for the teachers. It went to the janitors and others across the system. They said who all during the meeting, but I couldn't hear all of them.

I understand what you are saying about teachers and the positions you could possibly lose. I empathize with you greatly. My oldest son will become a teacher when he completes his degree at MTSU. It is a job that you do because you love, not a job that is done because the pay is great or for the job security.

Consolidating the schools would free up money which would in turn free up the ability to fill positions, retain positions and possibly give raises and such. That is one of the many reasons I preach that sermon. It is not because I am against one school or the other or against teachers or anti-school system. It is the only choice we have and I just reached that decision a few years before most people because I am not emotionally attached to tradition.

I don't think there is one commissioner who is against the schools or the teachers. The problem we face is our county has more money going out than we have coming in and sooner or later that catches up with you.

At this point in our budget we have three choices.
1. Raise taxes by a substantial amount in order to maintain basic services
2. Don't raise taxes and eliminate services / positions county wide
3. Do a combination of both so the burden is not too great on the first two choices

I do believe that the Commissioners are choosing door number 3 and I understand why and support that.
July 09, 2012 at 12:34pm
Budget cuts, raised taxes, and consolidating schools. These may not be popular decisions, and Mrs. Choate as one of your former students I do empathize and I think you are an excellent teacher, as I now claim a career that is 85-95% dependent on math, but as Corey said we are spending more than we are making. Some sacrifices must be made so that the county doesn't collapse and the system goes away completely. Consolidating schools would be probably the largest effective choice of saving the money as it would allow for smaller (if any) tax increases and allow for services to still be rendered. Can this happen overnight? No. Maybe if enough people spoke for it it would at least start to gain steam and get initiated. Traditions are all good and well, but at what point do you cut off your nose to spite your face? What happens to tradition when the community that supports it is bankrupt and the ledger reads in the red? True, we may lose some traditions, but new ones can always be made.

Also, when money is tight when is it appropriate that we give raises? Not just teachers, but anybody in the government. Does a company that is losing money give raises? Before taxing the people try cutting spending as much as possible. This is not saying putting critical services in dangerous positions, but raises especially cannot be afforded and should be reserved for times when the economy is better off. This is not an attack on the performance of those in position, but it's just how things are in a tough economy.
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July 09, 2012 at 1:05pm
scrabble I can't really answer your questions except to tell you what I was told.

I asked Mrs. Parker for an individual school budget for each grammar school and the High School and I was told that individual budgets for each school did not exist.

I was told it cost approximately $800,000 for each school to keep the doors their open during a school year and that is what I have used for my numbers ever since.

Your logic of the cost to run a larger school vs. a smaller school makes sense, but I can only go by what I was told by the people who run the schools.

That is exactly why I say using those numbers we are spending approximately $5600 per student at one school and $2600 per student at another. Neither of which makes logical sense.

If anyone out there knows of more accurate numbers or have information given to them by a member of the school board or Mrs. Parker I would like to know it as well.
July 09, 2012 at 10:30pm
Corey, sounds like you were given an average amount to run each school and you're using those numbers to make the idea of consolidating schools a no-brainer. I think there's more to it than that because I know it's going to cost more to maintain larger school buildings with twice as many teachers, custodians, aides, and food service workers. That's just common sense. Maybe the numbers you are looking for don't exist, but I know each enrolled student gets a certain amount from state funding plus the county adds some to that. Maybe that's where one should start when figuring what is spent in our county per student. Of course, it costs to maintain buildings, but it would also cost more to transport students longer distances.

The citizens residing at Short Mtn. and East Side are tax payers, too. They help pay for Woodbury Grammar's new school building. Woodbury had the "good fortune" of receiving a new building which was desperately needed. Not all classes at Short Mtn., East Side, and Auburn are small...yet they are under attack because they have the "good fortune" of having low numbers. Have you ever taken a look at how small these schools' zones are? East Side's zone is incredibly tiny! No wonder the numbers are low!

Most people who live in these small communities are not the sentimental traditionalists who long to hang on to a building that you make them out to be. Have you ever considered these are good schools? I heard West Side got down to around 150 students last year. How many schools do we consolidate? Is West Side next to be on the chopping block?
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July 10, 2012 at 7:38am
scrabble: The $800,000 cost of keeping each individual school open came from the Director of Schools. Of course it was an average because there are no individual school budgets. I thought I was pretty clear on that. Sorry you didn't follow it.

To say this is not about tradition and sentiment is to say the least, far-fetched. We don't have a middle school right now because of sentiment and tradition centered 100% on basketball. You know it, I know it and so does anyone who has lived in Cannon County longer than 5 years. Every excuse you or anyone else makes AGAINST consolidation is centered around tradition, sentiment or for their own personal reasons. Logically, financially and realistically the reasons FOR consolidation are sound and are easily proven.

Let's take $300,000 off of the cost of running one of the smaller schools since you make the argument that it costs less to run them vs. the larger schools and you still save $500,000 if we combine two of them. That still makes consolidating schools a "no brainer" as you call it.

I have never implied any school wasn't a good school, so please don't suggest that I thought differently. I have fond memories from every school in the county from the time I attended grammar school even up to today as I still have a child in grammar school. I appreciate the people, the communities, the students, the teachers, the parents and all of the memories associated with each school we have. However, I am not blinded by all of that to not see what needs to be done.

By keeping the smaller schools open it is placing a burden upon the whole county to continue to pay them. It will continue to add to the need for more tax dollars to be allocated to schools that are antiquated and 30, 40 and 50 years old that will have to be maintained and Band-Aid’s put on them just because we can’t let go of the past and move into the future.

You make my argument for me when you talk about how small school zones are. That is the very reason why we need to consolidate. But, you need not fear of anything happening soon because doing what is right takes courage and resolve and no one is going to step up and lead the charge that needs to be led.

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