Letters: Should Carter commission override mayor's budget veto?

Johnson City Press • Jul 29, 2018 at 6:00 AM

In Monday’s Question of the Week, we asked you if you thought the Carter County Commission should override Mayor Leon Humphrey’s veto of the approved budget with an 11-cent tax increase. Here are some of your responses.

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The Carter County Commission should NOT override the mayor's veto of the budget. If a family had six months of savings (equal to 50 percent of their budget), why should the parents take money from their children's piggy banks to pay the bills after the parents had spent more than their budget? Wouldn't loving parents tighten up on their spending instead of robbing their children's piggy banks? Why should the children be punished because their parents try to live beyond their means? What kind of example does that set as parents?

The only reason there is a deficit this year is because our government spent more than its budget. Is imposing higher taxes on the citizens because our government wants to overspend the precedent we want to set? Our ending unassigned fund balance, (our "savings account" as Ms. Cannon put it) has grown an average of $1,190,919 each year for 6 years prior to this past year (which ended in a deficit of $438,203). Clearly it is overspending that has caused this deficit and NOT insufficient revenue.

A tax increase is not needed and should only be a measure of last resort. We have other options. According to line 999-11300 of the Carter County Trustee trial balance of June 30, 2018, we have $13,000,809.01 of investments in low-interest (under 2 percent) CDs that are not in the the State Comptroller's report. If the budget committee wants more revenue it should STOP SPENDING MORE THAN THE BUDGET and convert those CDs into higher yielding investments like those "good investments" that Ms. Cannon spoke of that have grown the the fund balance an average of $1,190,919 each year for six years prior. Unless those CDs are the "good investments" Ms. Cannon spoke of. In which case they could be much better.


Reserves are too darn high!

Thank you for offering us, the Carter County taxpayers, the ability to share our views on the whether the Carter County budget should be overturned. It seems that it can be really hard for us to get our views and wishes heard by several of our commissioners!

No, I do not want the commission to overturn the mayor’s veto. Why? Because for the last several years Carter County government has operated at a SURPLUS. The State Comptroller’s annual audit shows the annual surplus of revenue over expenditures to be:

July 2015: $1.51 million

July 2016: $1.31 million

July 2017: $372, 000

At end of July 2017, we had a general fund balance of just over $10 million, with $8 million unassigned i.e. available to be used for any purpose.

Last year’s total expenses were $16.5 million. This means we have about 50 percent of our annual running costs in our unassigned general fund. I think that we should follow Washington County’s example. Their policy is 1/3 of annual running costs in the unassigned general fund at year end, and no less than 15 percent throughout the year.

To make things even worse, these funds are invested at less than the rate of inflation — so the excess money taken from taxpayers is actually being reduced in spending value.

I do not think the commission should raise taxes, I think they should take any deficit from the general fund — which appears to be too high.


Employees need raises

Regarding a vote about Carter County Commissioners voting on increase of taxes, if there is $8 million in the reserve now, there should not be a tax increase. If there is $8 million in the reserve, the employees should have a raise from the reserve as long as it does not deplete the reserve to an unsafe level.

If there is not $8 million, then the commissioners should override Humphrey's veto and reinstate the 11 percent tax increase. Bottom line: employees needs a raise.


Keep an eye out each week for another Question of the Week, but you may send us letters about any topic important to you. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].

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