City needs to stand firm on shelter funding; county needs to step up with more library funds

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, May 24, 2017

One sign of summer approaching is that local government agencies begin to get their budgets in place. That’s what was reflected at Monday’s Carter County Commission Budget Committee meeting and the most recent City Council meeting.

The county has indicated it will raise taxes by four cents and the city has proposed a three-cent tax increase to fund a one-time bonus for employees.
The county budget includes a one percent pay raise for employees as well as additional funds for the Carter County Animal Shelter.
It appears that there are no real winners in either budget. Those hit the hardest in the county budget appear to be seniors and youth. Many county residents enjoy the services of the Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library, the Senior Citizens Center, and City Park and Rec facilities, but many county commissioners are of the opinion there are more important things to fund. The county budget as approved by the Budget Committee Monday evening only approves an extra $600 over last year’s appropriation to the library; an extra $144.40 to the Elizabethton Senior Center; $112.81 to Parks and Recreation; and $95 to the Boys and Girls Club.
The County Mayor keeps requesting that the city pay 50 percent of the funding for the animal shelter, claiming the county has a contract with the city regarding shelter funding. Last month the city, and rightfully so, voted to decrease funding to the shelter as opposed to increasing it as requested by the mayor.
City taxpayers are also county residents and pay both city and county taxes. They are already paying to fund the animal shelter with their county taxes. To pay again with their city taxes would result in their paying more for the operation of the shelter than county taxpayers do. It doesn’t take a scholar to do the math and know this is not fair.
Last year the library received $60,000 from Carter County, which pales in comparison to the $534,000 the city gives toward the operation of the library. While the county’s contribution metes out to only about 10 percent of the library’s budget, approximately 75 percent of the library’s patrons live outside the city.
Elizabethton taxpayers are subsidizing library services for county residents. By the numbers, the county should be paying much, much more.
Yet, the county mayor has the audacity to request an additional $100,000 in city funds to support the animal shelter. The city has already approved $100,000 for the animal shelter. For the county mayor to ask for another $100,000 in funds for the animal shelter and only increase the county’s share of library funding by $600 is an insult to city taxpayers.
We do not deny that the animal shelter is a vital service, but so is the library, the Elizabethton Senior Center, the Boys and Girls Club, and our parks and rec. We have commissioners who do not feel the library is needed, and they do not want their taxes to fund it. They have indicated by their vote they believe that taking care of dogs and cats is more important than buying books for the library or providing services for senior citizens. All are important, but we need to get our priorities in order.
We are simply asking that the county become a supporting player in the daily life of the library and pay its fair share.
Also, city taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay more of their tax revenue than county residents do to keep the animal shelter operating. It not an us against them thing, it’s just playing fair.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox