Carter Budget Committee reviews proposed budgets for schools, highways

John Thompson • Apr 29, 2019 at 11:31 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Budget Committee of the Carter County Commission competed its reviews of the proposed budgets of all county departments during a workshop session Monday night.

The session had the committee reviewing the budgets of the Carter County School Department, the Carter County Highway Department and the county’s debt service.

The school department has the largest budget of any county department. The proposed budget for the School Department General Fund is $42,004,007. But most of this sum is from state and federal funds.

By far the largest source of annual revenue comes from the state in the form of the Basic Education Program. Next year, the state is projected to contribute $31,100,128. The federal government is projected to donate $204,464 to the School Department General Fund.

The federal government’s largest contribution to the county schools is in the General Cafeteria Fund. The federal government is projected to contribute $2,515,000 to the cafeteria fund next year.

The local funds going to the School Department General Fund is projected at $10,466,551.

The School Department General Fund is also unlike most budgets in the county because it has been persistently declining over the past several years, rather than rising.

That is because the student enrollment has been declining as a result of population loss and other factors. The School Department General Fund’s total revenue from all sources has declined from $44,280,865 in the 2017-18 school year to a proposed $42,004,007 for next year.

The local funds have declined from $10,790,966 in 2017-18 to a projected $10,466, 551.

The county’s Highway Department is like the school department in receiving most of its funding from the state rather than from local taxes. The department’s total revenue is projected to be $5,507,208,

The state is projected to provide the Carter County Highway Department with $3,994,934 next year. It expects to receive $1,286,774 from local taxes next year. The state’s total contribution is also up by over $600,000 from this year as a result of the increase in the state fuel tax.

While the state is certainly the key source of revenue for the county’s School and Highway departments, Director of Schools Kevin Ward told the Budget Committee that there is a new worry.

When the committee asked Ward fore his thoughts on the school voucher bill in the state legislature.

“It is going to hurt,” Ward said. “It has opened the door statewide for the voucher system.”

Ward said the impact on public schools will be a loss of students and a loss of funding.

Ward said he asked the legislators representing local districts to vote against the measure.

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