CLINTON—New tax revenues of about $700,000 plus about $100,000 in cuts will allow Anderson County Schools to fund 2 percent pay raises for teachers and staff, the county budget director said Wednesday.
The Anderson County Commission approved a 10-cent increase in the property tax rate on Monday, July 20, and eight cents of that was for schools. Anderson County Schools will get about $700,000 from the tax rate increase, but at last week’s meeting, school officials said they still had to come up with another $100,000 or so to fund the 2 percent raises.
Chris Phillips, Anderson County accounts and budget director, said the school system was able to do that in a revised budget submitted to the county government on Wednesday.
The Anderson County Commission will consider the new tax rate in a special meeting that includes a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 30, in Room 312 of the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton.
The eight-increase for schools also generates new money for Clinton and Oak Ridge schools. Oak Ridge officials have said the new revenues for Oak Ridge Schools will be about $423,000, and that will help cover a school system budget deficit of more than $600,000.
According to earlier estimates, each penny on the Anderson County property tax rate generates another $152,000, and about $89,000 of that goes to Anderson County Schools.
The new tax rate certified by the state after five-year reappraisals completed this year would have been $2.6903 before the 10-cent increase approved by commissioners last week.
But with the increase approved by commissioners, the rate will be $2.7903 in Norris, Oliver Springs, Rocky Top, and rural Anderson County. In Oak Ridge, it will be $2.5945, and in Clinton, it will be $2.7589. The tax rate varies because of school debt obligations.
The 10-cent increase also includes two cents to pay for 2 percent pay raises for county employees, with the exceptions of county commissioners and other elected officials.
The certified tax rate—state officials call it a tax-neutral rate—is up from the current $2.529. That’s because overall property assessments dropped 4 percent in Anderson County in the five-year reappraisals completed this year. The tax-neutral rate brings in the same amount of revenue after a reappraisal as before, so when the overall assessed value goes down, the tax-neutral rate goes up.
Teachers and staff had advocated for a larger 4 percent pay raise. The schools’ request, which also included money for capital projects such as roof repairs and a technology initiative that included so-called 1:1 devices, was the equivalent of a 22-cent tax rate increase.
Teachers said the 2 percent raise was better than nothing, but they are still behind compared to other districts. They may not make any ground compared to Oak Ridge Schools because the Oak Ridge City Council on Monday approved a budget that proposes 2 percent pay raises for teachers and school staff, and includes similar raises for municipal staff members. (The Oak Ridge City Council can’t tell the school system how to spend its money, and the Oak Ridge Board of Education will meet to discuss the budget on Monday, August 3.)
There are about 1,050 school employees in Anderson County, including 600 teachers.
See the special meeting agenda here: CC-Special-Called-Session-Agenda-7.30.15.
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