County adopts interim budget

Jun. 24, 2014 @ 09:38 AM

Rutherford County Commissioners passed a budget to get the county through the end of July.

During a special meeting Monday night, commissioners said they weren’t comfortable passing a final budget because of issues left outstanding due to the state not completing its budget work.

The interim budget reflects appropriations 1/12th of the overall proposed budget. The total general fund appropriations for July are $4.6 million. Other fund appropriations total approximately $1.3 million.

Commissioners had to pass some form of a budget by June 30 as the next fiscal year begins July 1.

Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen said commissioners could pass the complete budget but there were too many funding questions remaining.

“We can make some adjustments, use fund balance or raise taxes,” Classen said.

The reason for the delay comes from the fact the General Assembly has yet to pass a complete budget and the potential of additional unfunded mandates for Rutherford County Schools.

“There was, of the schools request, $772,000 in the budget was to backfill unfunded mandates,” Classen said. “At the same time requests are coming in to backfill current mandates, there are two budget proposals adding to that.”

With a joint House/Senate committee slated to meet and work out the differences between the two proposals, commissioners said there were too many questions unanswered.

“There’s significant possibilities, especially when you look at the Senate budget, that will impact us greatly,” said commissioner Greg Lovelace.

Another option commissioners had was to delay voting on any budget proposal for a week to see if the legislature passed a budget by next Monday.

“I loathe bringing that up because, as a staff, we need some direction, at least for the month of July,” Classen said.

Commissioners weren’t keen on the idea of letting the budget sit another week. The budget calendar had commissioners approving the budget on June 4 but budget requests from Rutherford County Schools and Isothermal Community College forced county officials to look at funding options.

“To delay it one week, I don’t know if the legislature will be done by then,” said Bill Eckler, Commission chairman. “I don’t feel comfortable passing a complete budget either.”

Commissioner Bo Richard, however, said there was no reason for commissioners to not pass a complete budget. He said the county passes budget amendments every meeting.

“Why kick the can down the road?” Richard said. “Just pass the budget and go.”

Commissioners approved an interim budget with Richard dissenting. Classen said the budget just takes the county through July 31.

Part of the interim budget included approving technical budget amendments in ad valorem taxes, the Senior Center, E911 capital outlay and restoring a part-time employee for Solid Waste.

The interim budget resolution does not include the budgeted salary increase for county employees but Classen said it the raises would be part of the final budget resolution.

In the interim budget resolution, the county did include a stipulation that Rutherford County Rescue have until July 31 to sign its contract with the county or its allocation would revert back to County EMS. Lovelace amended it to extend the date to Aug. 31.

Classen said there were challenges to passing an interim budget.

“There are some issues with dividing by 12 because expenses don’t always come in that way,” Classen said, “There may be amendments to this if the legislature doesn’t have something.

“This is unusual but there are pretty unusual times.”