The Hamblen County Budget Committee approved using money from its reserves Thursday night to erase a deficit of more than half a million dollars.
The county originally had a shortfall of more than $730,000, but County Mayor Bill Brittain told commissioners that over the course of the last week the finance department had looked at a few things to reduce that price tag.
“We reviewed the revenue again to see if there’s anything we could tweak,” he said.
He said they found they could adjust state prisoner payments by increasing the revenue by $50,000. The county also reduced payments to jail food supplies by $75,000, sheriff patrol cars by $35,000, liability insurance by $20,000 and worker’s compensation insurance by $20,000.
The cuts, along with added revenues, left the county at a shortfall in the general fund of $524,190, Brittain sad.
“My suggestion is fund the one-time expenses with fund balance so they’ll be no property tax increase,” he said.
Commissioner Howard Shipley, chairman of the full commission, made a motion to use fund balance and Commissioner Jim Stepp seconded. The committee voted 13-0 to approve the expenditure.
The committee also approved unanimously budgets for the garbage fund and highway fund.
Commissioner Scotty Long, however, had some questions concerning paving. He asked how many miles of paving the county had conducted so far this year. County officials told him that it was around eight to nine miles.
Long said paving in Hamblen County is a problem and more needed to be done about it.
“Eight miles a year in Hamblen County is nothing,” Long said.
Before the commission adjourned, Commissioner Wayne NeSmith brought up a list of expenditures he had concerns about and said he wanted to discuss the items.
The issues he raised were giving the E-911 system the same amount of money as this fiscal year’s budget, the amount of money for rabies/vaccination, which goes to the Hamblen County Humane Society, giving money to the Rose Center, giving additional money to the Parks and Recreation Board, giving money to the Economic Development Board and giving money for an expansion at Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Morristown.
But NeSmith gained no traction with his fellow commissioners on the issues.
Commissioner Bobby Haun said he had no problems with giving some additional money to the Parks and Recreation Board and Rose Center because county residents use them and benefit with quality of life.
“It may be a city building, but it’s a county treasure,” Haun said of the Rose Center.
On spending $100,000 to help with TCAT expansion, commissioners said that was an investment into the people of Hamblen County who would attend the college and be able to get better jobs and pay taxes.
The state is putting more than $15 million into the expansion project.
“Communities that don’t put skin in the game don’t get $15 million,” Brittain said.
NeSmith told commissioners he was just trying to look at a way to save the county money considering it had a shortfall of more than half a million dollars.
“I guess I’m just wrong on every issue,” he said.
The commission will meet next Thursday during its regularly scheduled business meeting at 5 p.m. in the Hamblen County Courthouse.