Panel to consider committee fill-in policy

Published 8:35 am Monday, July 20, 2015

In the last two years, the Commission has come under fire for changing the allocation to debt service after the public hearing on the budget when the proposal is brought to the full commission.

Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey vetoed the 2014-15 budget as well as the 2013-14 budget citing concerns with that change, which he said was illegal under state law. Both of those vetoes were ultimately overturned by the Commission.

Following the 2013-14 budget veto and subsequent override, Humphrey sought an opinion from the State Attorney General on the matter, who opined that the Commission did violate state law in changing the debt service allocation.

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In July 2014, when the budget was up for discussion County Commissioner Nancy Brown reminded the body of the previous ruling by the State Attorney General regarding changing the debt service allocation. Despite the reminder from Brown and against the advice of then-County Attorney Keith Bowers, the Commission once again altered the debt service portion of the budget.

Humphrey once again vetoed the budget and his veto was then overridden by the commission. Humphrey then sought a second opinion from the State Attorney General’s office and receive the same answer as before – altering the debt service allocation after the public hearing did violate state law.

During the budget committee meeting where the tax rate and debt service allocation was set, Budget Committee Chairwoman Sonja Culler reminded committee members that once the debt service allocation was set and presented at a public hearing it could not be changed when the budget was brought before the full commission.