Budget Committee lends support to ‘balanced budget’ proposal

Published 6:35 pm Thursday, January 11, 2018

Members of the Carter County Budget Committee recently voted to lend their support to a resolution requiring the county to set a balanced budget and developing a special capital projects fund.

On January 3, members of the Financial Management Committee voted unanimously to forward a resolution to the full Carter County Commission setting a “balanced budget” policy for the county and placing some restrictions on the use of unused funds transferred back to the county by the various departments and offices at the end of each fiscal year.

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During Monday evening’s Budget Committee meeting, Chairwoman Commissioner Sonja Culler brought the resolution before members of the group.

“This will be brought to the Commission, but I think it would be good for us to have a vote on it tonight,” Culler said.

Under the terms of the proposed resolution, “it shall be the policy of Carter County to develop a ‘balanced budget’ each and every fiscal year, which shall take into account the budgetary needs of each office, department and/or division of Carter County government and fund those budgetary needs only through utilization of existing and/or projected revenues.”

Commissioner Brad Johnson first presented his proposal to the Financial Management Committee in December, voicing his concern with the Commission’s practice of dipping into reserve funds to pay for recurring expenditures in the budget.

“My idea was that they set their budget by the funds available, and not go into the fund balance,” Johnson said during the Financial Management meeting on Jan. 3.

For the 2017-18 fiscal year budget, the Commission approved a property tax increase of 2 cents and also directed the county to recognize $160,000 the county expects to receive in interest on CDs invested through the County Trustee’s Office. Even with those revenue increases, according to Carter County Finance Director Christa Byrd, the budget remained unbalanced, and an estimated $443,000 had to be pulled from the fund balance just to cover the budgeted expenditures.

During Monday’s meeting of the Budget Committee, Byrd once again voiced her support of the proposed policy change.

“It forces you to look at your revenues and expenditures and how you are going to fund your budget, and I think that’s a good thing,” Byrd said. “I think it’s a great thing — it’s encouraging good financial planning.”

Culler told the committee she felt it would be good for the Budget Committee to lend its support to the resolution when it is presented to the full Commission on Jan. 16.

Commissioner Dr. Robert Acuff made a motion to approve the resolution and lend the committee’s support to it. Commissioner Ronnie Trivett provided the second for the motion, which then passed unanimously on a vote.

The resolution to adopt the balanced budget policy will be presented to the full Carter County Commission during the group’s meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at 6 p.m. at the Carter County Courthouse. Because the resolution will change existing county operating policy, it will require a two-thirds majority vote to be adopted.