County budget cuts could hit local service organizations

Published 12:45 pm Monday, May 28, 2018

As members of the Carter County Budget Committee have looked for ways to cut expenditures, one of the areas they have made cuts in is the county’s funding to outside agencies.

During the budget process for the 2017-18 fiscal year, the committee, and later the full County Commission, approved over $1,014,000 in funding for outside agencies. Outside agency funding includes several agencies that provide services to county residents, such as the county’s volunteer fire departments, the Carter County Rescue Squad, the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library, the Elizabethton Senior Center, and the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County.

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When this year’s budget process began, the county received requests for funding from outside agencies totaling $1,183,446.54. Some of the increase was due to agencies asking for additional funds as well as two local non-profits submitting applications to the county for the first time.

Faced with the possibility of a 16-cent increase to the county’s property tax rate, members of the Budget Committee began looking at budget requests for areas that could be cut. The committee decided it would only allocate funds to outside agencies that are mandated, such as the contractual agreement with East Tennessee State University for autopsy services, as well as the county’s seven volunteer fire departments and the Carter County Rescue Squad.

All of the agencies which the Committee selected to fund will receive the same allocation in the 2018-19 fiscal year that they were given during 2017-18.

By cutting funding to the additional agencies, the Budget Committee was able to trim the outside agency funding from the requested $1,183,446.54 down to $1,006,621.54 in allocations. Cutting $176,825 from the outside agencies translates into a savings of about 2.12 pennies on the tax rate with the current value of a penny being $83,341.

The following outside agencies will receive funding from Carter County if the current proposal is approved by the Budget Committee and later the full County Commission:

• Carter County Volunteer Fire Departments – $400,000 for the departments and $15,000 for the firefighters grant

• Carter County Rescue Squad – $272,700

• Vocational Rehab – $27,809

• First Tennessee Human Resources Agency – $30,570 divided between various programs

• Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library – $60,600

• Carter County Soil Conservation – $20,999.50

• Department of Agriculture – $1,000

• First Tennessee Development District – $13,262

• ETSU Pathology – $124,681.04

• Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership (economic development) – $40,000

The following agencies received funding from Carter County during the 2017-18 fiscal year but will not receive any for 2018-19 if the current proposed budget is approved:

• American Red Cross ($1,425)

• Elizabethton Senior Center ($23,000)

• Retired Senior Volunteer Program ($5,000)

• Carter County Imagination Library ($5,000)

• Elizabethton Parks & Recreation ($25,000)

• Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County ($16,000)

• The Shepherd’s Inn ($12,000)

• Children’s Advocacy Center ($5,000)

The Carter County Budget Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, May 29, at 6 p.m. at the Carter County Courthouse.