Anderson County commissioners have called another special meeting—this one on Thursday, August 13—to consider the county budget and tax rate. At stake are pay raises for county employees and educators and more than $1 million in new money for schools in Anderson County, Clinton, and Oak Ridge.
County commissioners approved a budget supported by a 10-cent property tax rate increase during a regular meeting on Monday, July 20. Eight cents of that increase was meant to provide most of the money needed for 2 percent pay raises for teachers and staff in Anderson County Schools. Anderson County Schools expected to receive another $700,000 or so from the tax rate increase, while Oak Ridge Schools anticipated an extra $423,000 and Clinton City Schools were projected to get another $134,000.
The other two cents approved during the July 20 meeting was for 2 percent pay raises for Anderson County employees, with the exception of county commissioners and other elected officials.
But in a follow-up special meeting on Thursday, July 30, the Anderson County Commission rejected the tax increase when it came time to officially adopt the new tax rate for the fiscal year that began July 1. For now, county and school officials are continuing to operate under last year’s spending levels.
The vote for the budget that included the 10-cent tax rate increase on July 20 was 9-5-1.
The vote to adopt the new, higher tax rate on July 30 was 8-5. Nine votes were needed for passage.
During the August 13 meeting, commissioners could rescind the July 20 motion that accepted the school and general fund budget with the 10-cent tax rate increase. Commissioners could also rescind a motion adopting other budgets, including the ambulance, tourism, and highway funds.
But commissioners could also reconsider adding the 10-cent increase to the new certified tax rate provided by the state after the five-year reappraisals completed this year. The certified tax rate is meant to be revenue-neutral, delivering the same amount of money after the reappraisals as before.
Chris Phillips, Anderson County accounts and budget director, said he will be unable to attend the August 13 special meeting.
Anderson County Commissioner Tracy Wandell said he will also be unable to attend. Wandell, who has voted against the proposed tax rate increase, has advocated using some money from the $4 million fund balance for a one-time bonus for schools in Anderson County, Clinton, and Oak Ridge.
“I think this method would demonstrate fiscal responsibility and eliminate the ideas of further cuts to fee offices,” Wandell said.
But other commissioners have warned of the danger of using the fund balance.
There has been some interest in making budget cuts, but it’s not clear yet if any old or new proposals might be brought up for consideration during the August 13 meeting.
With the 10-cent tax rate increase, the tax rate in Clinton would be $2.7589 per $100 of assessed value. It would be $2.5945 in Oak Ridge and $2.7903 in Oliver Springs, Rocky Top, Norris, and rural Anderson County. The tax rate varies because of school debt obligations.
See the August 13 agenda here: ACC Special Call Agenda Aug. 13 2015.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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