County unveils budget
No tax increases and a partial wage increase for county employees are all part of the 2013-14 proposed Rutherford County budget.
Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen presented the budget during the County Commission's regular meeting Monday afternoon.
Classen said that there is no proposed increase in the county's revenue-neutral tax rate of $0.607 for every $100 of property valuation.
"All of the funds in the budget are balanced despite lower tax revenue," Classen said. "Most county departments have been kept flat or even decreased slightly."
He said there is the anticipation of continued decreasing sales tax revenue and a decrease in available real estate property tax revenue.
The total proposed budget is $53,283,128 — a $3 million increase over the 2012-13 budget. Of the increase, $2.1 million is incentive payments leaving the remaining increase a 1.2 percent increase over 2012-13.
"The incentives have brought in new industry," Classen said. "The increase in valuation will continue but we'll be paying out a lot of that increase in the property tax in the incentives."
With regards to declining tax revenue, Classen said the county has seen a slight decline over "the last few years."
"We have decreased spending to offset that decrease but we expect the decline to continue," Classen said.
The new budget includes a 2.5 percent mid-year salary increase for county employees but also includes a provision that any new hires will have to be justified by the department head to Classen before the position is advertised.
Classen said the county will not use any general fund balance for the current fiscal year and there is none budgeted for use in the next budget.
Recently, Classen decided to consolidate the county's EMS and Transit departments into one entity. Classen said that was part of the budgetary process to examine each department for fiscal redundancy.
"We are trying to consolidate to try to keep our costs down but maintain services," Classen said.
Despite a flat budget with no increase, Classen said the county can still look at future projects during the next fiscal year.
"The decreases does not mean that the county will not be able to work on some of the projects that the Commission wants to implement," Classen said.
Some of those projects include completing the EMS station in the southeastern part of the county, working on infrastructure improvement and the development of a capital improvement plan for the county.
Commissioners approved a calendar of budget work sessions — beginning Wednesday — that include meeting with the ICC Board of Trustees and Rutherford County Schools Board of Education.
In other business, commissioners:
• approved the appointment of Cindy Adair to the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission Board of Trustees;
• approved a joint resolution with Cleveland County to rename a four-mile section of U.S. 74A "The Senator Debby A. Clary Highway."
• approved a $100,000 bond for interim Reveune Director Clair Hubbard;
• approved 2013-14 funding allocation for the Juvenile Justice Authority;
• approved a mutual aid agreement with Henderson County;
• approved a project resolution for the Queens Gap project;
• approved adding L.B. Harris Lane to the state secondary road system;
• approved the Rutherford County Safety Policy for employees.