Departments call for $564,000 funding boost

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, May 13, 2014

More than a half-million dollars increased funding was presented to the Budget Committee by county departments and offices during a budget workshop on Monday.
In total, the budget requests by the county departments for the 2014-2015 fiscal year are $564,236.81 higher than the approved budgets for those departments for the current fiscal year.
Carter County Finance Director Ingrid Deloach reported to the Committee that some of the increases were not under the control of the department heads. She said the cost for the county’s medical insurance had increased by 5 percent.
“We are very fortunate with our medical insurance rate,” Deloach said. “I was anticipating an increase of 15 to 20 percent and we got lucky.”
In addition to the increase in the medical insurance cost, Deloach said the county is also facing an increase in the amount it pays to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System for county employees. This year, she added, there is a state-mandated increase in salary for elected county officials.
In addition to those fixed cost increases, many of the departments had additional funding requests, including raises for county employees.
Included in the budget requests for the following offices was a request for a 5 percent raise for employees: Trustee’s Office, Property Assessor’s Office, Register of Deeds, Clerk and Master’s Office, Circuit Court Clerk, and County Clerk’s Office. An employee raise of 2 percent was sought for employees of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, including employees of the Carter County Detention Center.
Deloach said that any time salary is increased for an employee the county also incurs increased expenditures in payments to Social Security as well as the retirement fund.
The offices and departments that did not request raises for employees are: County mayor’s office, Election Commission, Planning and Zoning Office, Finance Department and the Emergency Management Agency.
The largest request for an increase in funding came from Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes, who requested an additional $155,651.73 for the Sheriff’s Department budget and $106,859.80 for the Detention Center budget. Mathes said that in addition to the 2 percent raise and the increased costs for medical insurance and retirement benefits, some of his budget request is related to equipment expenses.
According to Mathes, the Sheriff’s Department and Detention Center have a large number of employees and would be hit very hard in their budgets to cover the fixed cost increases on insurance and retirement benefits.
Mathes also said that because of the large number of employees in his department, he only sought a 2 percent raise instead of the 5 percent being requested by other departments.
“We understand we are a very large department,” he said.
The third-largest request presented to the committee came from the Election Commission, which is asking for an increase of $77,716.07 over the current fiscal year. Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris said a large part of the requested increase is because there are two major elections in the 2014-2015 fiscal year – one in August and one in November.
“August is going to be a big election. It’s going to be a very large ballot,” Harris said.
Several of the department heads also requested that funds cut from their budgets for the current fiscal year be returned to the budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Members of the committee will have at least one more budget workshop before they work out a budget proposal to submit to the full County Commission for a vote. The committee is scheduled to hear a budget proposal from the Carter County School System on May 15.

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