After several months of working the numbers, on Monday night the County Commission approved the budget for the fiscal year of July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020 (FY2019-20). They once again fixed the property tax levy as $2.95 on each $100 of taxable property – no change from last year.
The budget had some challengers, with commissioners Dayna Ferguson, Phil Melton, Kenneth Miller, and Rosanne Ward each voting against its passage. Citing her obligation to do her best for her constituents and other county citizens to make wise decisions, Ward expressed several concerns regarding the budget for FY2019-20.
“While I’m glad there will be no tax increase, I am concerned that we have reduced the schools’ budget by $100,000,” Ward said. “We are a small school district, and we are already behind other schools in some areas. A reduction of the schools’ budget could mean the loss of teachers! Instead of taking away, we need to be helping our schools move forward.”
Other concerns that Ward noted were the reduction of the County Highway Dept. budget by $30,000, and the practice of what she described as “overestimating revenue” to ensure that the various columns balance. Rocky Presson, a member of the budget committee, spoke at length in an effort to ally the concerns of Ward and others, stressing that all budgets rely on estimates of expected revenue.
At the start of the meeting, State Representative Bruce Griffey made presentations to accomplished young people in the county. First he congratulated Kerri Arnold on earning the title of Miss Tennessee Volunteer 2019, and presented her with an official proclamation of congratulations from the Tennessee House of Representatives and a Tennessee state flag that had flown over the state capitol building. Next, he and Mayor Brett Lashlee presented items to the initial members of the CHS championship volleyball team (see page 1B).
Once the budget was passed, the meeting progressed quickly. Other resolutions that were approved included:
- Approved county contributions to non-profits and charitable organizations for FY2019-20.
Established a committee to resell land bought at delinquent tax sales.
- Authorized the county mayor to execute all documents in regard to the $12,000 USDA Rural Development grant application, and to administer grant funds to prepare an application to USDA Rural Development’s Community Facility Program.
- Agreed to petition state lawmakers to examine the decrease in the Benton County Bank Excise Taxes.
- Approved the Benton County Animal Shelter to begin accepting credit cards as a form of payment for adoption fees and sale of materials.
For anyone unable to attend a County Commission meeting, an audio recording of any commission meeting can be obtained at no charge from the County Clerk’s Office via transfer to a USB storage device.