Committee approves debt service budget
Published 8:51 am Wednesday, July 22, 2015
A correction to the debt service budget that stymied the Carter County Budget Committee last week took less than eight minutes to approve Tuesday night.
The budget committee met Tuesday in a special called session to consider the debt service portion of the county’s annual budget. All of the other sections of the budget, including the tax rate, previously had been approved by the committee.
Committee members had also previously approved the debt service portion of the budget, but it was discovered after the public hearing had been advertised that the debt service budget was incorrect.
When the budget was being prepared by the finance department, one of the county’s bond payments was inadvertently left off the total of payments.
The committee was asked during the July 13 meeting to approve a correction to the debt service budget, which would have allowed the public hearing to continue, but the measure failed on a vote and the public hearing was canceled.
On Tuesday, the committee took up the subject again.
“It was already in the debt service budget, it was just left off the total,” Committee Chairwoman Sonja Culler said.
Commissioner Ronnie Trivett, who voted against the correction at the July 13 meeting, made a motion to approve the correction, which was seconded by Commissioner L.C. Tester, who previously supported the corrected budget.
During discussion on the motion, Commissioner John Lewis, who was absent from the meeting on July 13, asked County Finance Director Ingrid Deloach where the money was coming from to cover the payment. Deloach explained the money was already in the debt service budget as money from that fund balance would be used to cover the payment.
Commissioner Nancy Brown, who said during the July 13 meeting that she “did not appreciate” the short notice the committee received on the correction, once again criticized the need for the correction.
“I had a real issue with getting this five minutes before we were supposed to vote on it,” Brown said.
During the July 13 meeting, Brown asked Deloach if there were any other mistakes in the budget and Deloach explained when the debt service omission was found the department looked back through the entire budget multiple times and found no mistakes.
On Tuesday night, Brown posed the question to Deloach again.
“You asked that last week and my answer is the same as it was then,” Deloach said.
Brown then referenced Deloach’s resignation and pending departure from the finance department.
“I hope whoever we get in this position will make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Brown said.
Culler reminded the committee that mistakes can happen.
“It was just an oversight,” Culler said. “It was not something that was done intentionally.”
After the brief discussion, the motion to approve the corrected debt service budget passed on a vote of 7-1 with Culler, Brown, Trivett, Tester, Buford Peters, Ross Garland and Robert Carroll all casting votes in favor. Lewis cast the sole dissenting vote.
With the approval of the debt service budget, the county can now hold a public hearing, which is required by law.
The public hearing has been set for 9 a.m Aug. 4.
During Monday night’s full Commission meeting, County Mayor Leon Humphrey said the full Commission would meet in a special called session to consider the budget on August 4 after the public hearing concluded.