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No tax increase proposed for Sumner homeowners

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A proposed $100.1 million budget is up for final approval by the full county commission June 19 after getting a unanimous vote to move forward Monday night by the county's budget committee. The 2017-18 budget, which starts July 1, does not call for a property tax increase for homeowners or any new issuance of debt for the coming fiscal year.

Rather than the traditional across-the-board raise for each county employee, the budget allows for each department head to give employees a raise up to 3.5 percent above last year's pay rate.

The final draft calls for $100,102,947 in expenditures and appropriations, with anticipated revenues of $97,706,854. The difference of $2.7 million is currently budgeted to come from the county's unassigned fund balance, but County Finance Director David Lawing said with many of the departments traditionally turning in as much as 3 percent of their budgets at the end of each fiscal year, he doesn't anticipate having to transfer any funds.

Assigned appropriations in the upcoming budget are $2.7 million less than the previous budget year. That decrease Lawing said is the result of fewer capital projects planned for 2017-18.

Lawing said around $10 million from the General Debt Service Fund was reallocated to the Capital Projects fund for a period of one fiscal year.

"This will allow several projects to be completed without additional borrowing," he said.

In addition, the Courthouse and Jail Maintenance Fund, Drug Control Fund, General Capital Projects Fund, Debt Service Fund, and the Highway/Public Works Fund each have available resources, he said.

Lawing also said the minimum desired unassigned fund balance, which is set to 15 percent of appropriations, is approximately $9.2 million. The new budget leaves around $13.7 million in the county's unassigned fund balance, he said.

The current county property tax rate is $2.50 cents per $100 of assessed property values. The last increase was in 2014 when taxes were raised from $2.02.

The proposed property tax division rate for 2017-18 is: General (22.14 percent); General Debt Service (4.7 percent); Highway/Public Works - (.60 percent); General Purpose School - (58.15 percent); and Capital Projects (14.4 percent).

Earlier this month, both the budget and education committees approved the 2017-18 budget for Sumner County Schools for $243 million.

The school system is not asking for additional funding from the county, but they did propose around $8.7 million in new revenue that includes $5.7 million more in state BEP funding; an increase of $2.5 million in local funding from sales, property and wheel tax revenue; and $436,000 more in other local revenue.

The schools budget includes an average of a 1.5 percent raise for all school system employees. Additional staffing includes 14.5 more teachers; 3.5 additional special education positions; three additional custodial positions; two full-time and one part-time maintenance positions; a part-time operations employee; 3.5 more school nursing positions, and an additional truancy officer.

The schools also proposed a pay increase for licensed and degreed substitute teachers. Those with an active teaching license will receive $100 a day - up from $85. Retired certified teachers who have let their teaching license lapse will also receive $100 a day under the new proposal - up from $55 a day. Those who have a bachelor's degree or higher but no teaching license will see an increase of $20 a day - up $55 to $75. Non-degreed subs will still receive $51 a day.

The full county commission will meet and vote Monday, June 19 in the chambers of the County Administration Building, 355 N Belvedere Dr. at 7 p.m.

Reporter TENA LEE, contributed to this story.

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