County slated to begin ’17-18 budget hearings Monday

Published 4:51 pm Friday, March 31, 2017

Members of the Carter County Commission’s Budget Committee will begin work this week on the county’s budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Monday night at 6 p.m., members of the Budget Committee will meet for the first budget of this year’s budget cycle.

While this is the first time commissioners will begin discussing the county’s finances for the next fiscal year, employees in the Finance Department have been working on the budget since January. During that month, the Finance Department sent letters out to the various county departments as well as local outside agencies who typically receive funding from the county asking them to submit their budget requests for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

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During February and March, the Finance Department worked to compile the funding requests and compare them to last year’s funding allocations.

The Budget Committee will now host a series of hearings and workshops to hammer out the details of the county’s budget for the upcoming year.

The process is getting started about one month earlier this year following a request by Carter County Finance Director Christa Byrd which was approved by the county’s governing body in October. In addition to an earlier start, Byrd built extra workshop days into the budget calendar for the year to allow for any extra meetings which may be needed if the committee members need to request additional information from the county’s departments or the outside agencies. All of the meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be held at the Carter County Courthouse.

This hearing on Monday will give the committee members the opportunity to hear budget requests and ask questions related to the county’s allocations to outside agencies — such as the public library and non-profits providing services to county residents — as well as from the county’s Solid Waste Department, which includes the landfill and recycling center.

On April 10, the committee will hear funding requests from the Health Department as well as the county’s General Fund (which includes the county’s operations with the exception of the Highway and Solid Waste departments) and the Tax Relief program.

The third hearing is set for April 24 when committee members will hear budget requests from the Highway Department, the Carter County School System, and the county’s debt service.

The dates of May 1 and May 4 are set aside as open meeting dates for committee members to hash out budget details. The committee’s regular meeting for May is slated for May 8, and that date is also listed as an open hearing date for the budget.

On Monday, May 22, the committee will hold their voting meeting, which is the meeting where the committee will vote to set the tax rate, budget allocations, and tax relief program.

A public hearing on the 2017-18 fiscal year budget is scheduled for June 12 at 6 p.m. Under state law, once the budget is presented at the public hearing, the Commission may vote to change any portion of the budget except for the debt service allocation, which is the part of the budget used to pay the county’s debt.

If the budget process goes according to plan, the proposed budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year will be presented to the full County Commission on June 19. That will allow commissioners one month to review the budget and research any questions they may have prior to the group’s meeting on July 17 where they are scheduled to adopt the budget for the coming fiscal year.

Under state law, counties that operate under the Financial Management Act of 1981 — such as Carter County — must have their annual budget approved no later than the third Monday in July, which this year is July 17.