Proposed 2022-23 budgets presented
“We’ll take it under advisement.”
That’s basically what Carroll County Budget Committee chairman Darrell Ridgely had to say to all the heads of various county departments and offices after they each presented their proposed budgets for the upcoming 2022-23 fiscal to the committee during annual budget hearings on March 24 at the Carroll County Office Complex.
No official action, however, was taken regarding any of the proposed budgets or specific funding requests by department heads. As Ridgely pointed out, the committee will consider these departmental budget proposals, make any changes they think need to be made, and then put it all together in a proposed county budget to be presented for approval before the full Legislative Body, ideally before the start of the next fiscal year on July 1.
The Budget Committee did not meet with two department heads, Sheriff Andy Dickson and Carroll County Director of Schools Johnny McAdams, due to Dickson being out of town that day and McAdams not having his budget ready – which, as County Mayor Joseph Butler explained, was because the state has not yet provided funding numbers for individual school systems.
The committee generally agreed to meet again on April 7, starting at 10 a.m., to hear and consider budget proposals from both Dickson and McAdams.
Some discussion was held on written proposed budgets for the Sheriff’s Department and Jail that had been submitted by Dickson, and Ridgely mentioned that Dickson had included funding for either a raise for deputies or the addition of another deputy.
And as other department heads had already brought up the matter of employee raises, committee members tossed around some ideas about things that might be done for all county employees in addition to bonuses ($2,000 for fulltime employees and $1,000 for parttime) that were given initial approval by the committee back during the March 3 meeting.
Ridgely said they might consider giving all employees additional bonuses and make those bonuses retroactive for the current fiscal year. Though no action was taken on the matter, some committee members commented that bonuses would just be a onetime expense for the county, while a percentage raise would carry forward for years to come.
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Other highlights from the March 24 Budget Committee hearings included:
•Solid Waste Director Jeff Heyduck said he is seeking a state grant with a 20 percent match. He said that, if approved, this funding would be used to purchase a new work truck and then maybe a new Bobcat vehicle. In regards to how garbage pickup by Republic is going, Heyduck said the situation has improved considerably over the past few weeks.
•Administrator of Elections Peg Hamlett said she is anticipating problems getting enough temporary poll workers to man all 15 district voting sites around the county during upcoming primaries and elections.
•Lori Dillahunty, chairperson over the Library Board, was commended by the committee for her enthusiastic presentation, during which she detailed all the important programs and services the library provides for the community and gave reasons why the county should approve raises for existing employees and funding for an additional library worker.
•Circuit Court Clerk Sarah Bradberry said she is hoping to add a data access service for attorneys and judges. She estimated this would cost $11,500 but added that some of the cost would be offset by charging for this service.
•E911 Director Janice Newman pointed out that all the cost of electricity used at the Emergency Operations Center, including that used by the dispatch office, has been coming out of her budget, which she said will cause her to come up short by about $5,000 in her current budget.
•Carroll Academy Director Randy Hatch pointed out that this is the biggest budget he has ever presented, due mainly to $600,000 that has been earmarked for the school by the governor, and he added that not a penny of this budget will be coming from county taxpayers. Hatch also mentioned that the cost of keeping the school’s fleet of vans updated and maintained has risen considerably and may present a problem in the future.
•Agriculture Extension Agent Kenny Herndon advised the committee that the UT Extension Service has upped the minimum wage for his employees to $15 per hour.
•Road Supervisors Ricky Scott and Scotty Bailey and CMFO/bookkeeper Jenny Gordan presented a $4.29 million proposed budget for the Highway Department, which is about $85,000 under the current fiscal year budget’s projections. Gordan pointed out, however, that the cost of just about everything is going up, and, as the department’s biggest source of revenue comes from state gas taxes – a revenue source that fluctuates and has been down due to the pandemic – they have to operate day-to-day out of a cash balance. “I watch this budget like a hawk,” said Gordan.
•Committee members discussed the fact that if the state goes ahead and pays off the debt owed for the Carroll County 1000-Acre Recreational Lake, then the $10 portion of the county wheel tax would cease at the end of the calendar year.
•Butler introduced new Airport Director C.J. Scott and pointed out that Scott has already secured extra funding for the airport. Scott commented that fuel costs were going to be a major factor going forward.
•Two amendments to the current fiscal year budget totaling $35,000 for equipment purchases in the Fire Department were approved by the committee.