Should Carter commissioners override Humphrey’s veto and reinstate the 11-cent tax increase?

Johnson City Press • Jul 22, 2018 at 7:03 PM

As Elizabethton Bureau Chief John Thompson reported last week, the Carter County Commission approved a budget with an 11-cent tax rate increase, taking the rate up to $2.58 per $100 of assessed value.

Some of the 14 commissioners voting for the increase said the additional revenue will keep the county from having to use its reserve funds — a rainy day fund of sorts — to make ends meet each year and some county employees will receive raises, keeping the sheriff’s department from being a training ground for officers who after receiving their training, move on to other area agencies that offer higher pay.

But not so fast. Mayor Leon Humphrey vetoed the budget resolution shortly after it reached his desk, saying the tax increase was unneeded.

At a press conference Wednesday, the mayor pointed to the $8 million the county has in reserves, which he said is a healthy amount. Humphrey acknowledged regular deficits in the county’s finances, but said some officeholders have resisted cutting their budgets.

Commission Chairman Robert Acuff, however, said regularly drawing from reserves to make up shortfalls is bad financial planning. He wants to significantly reduce the county’s budget deficit to keep from raiding the savings account.

As one astute commissioner pointed out, this pocketbook-issue fight is being waged in the middle of early voting and only a few weeks before county voters will select a slate of new commissioners and a new mayor. Some believe political ambitions may be a factor in the budget battle.

With the mayor’s veto on the resolution, the commission will meet again in special session on Aug. 6, four days after the general election, to consider an override. It would take at least 13 commissioners to override the veto.

Since the effects of the commission’s actions have to potential to affect so many county residents, we want to hear from you.

Should the Carter County Commission override Humphrey’s veto and reinstate the 11-cent tax increase?

Send your comments to [email protected]. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length.

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