By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was written prior to county budget hearings, which were scheduled for June 4, 5 and 7. Due to editor’s vacation, coverage of the first two hearings is not included in this article.)

Trousdale County’s proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year features just over $750,000 in new spending but does not include a tax increase.

County Mayor Carroll Carman made copies of the proposed budget available to members of the County Commission during their May 29 meeting. Budget hearings were scheduled to take place this week.

Among the highlights the mayor listed in his budget proposal were:

  • Raises of $2,000 for full-time and $1,000 for part-time county employees, an average of 6 percent increase and at a cost of $127,486;

    Submitted photo
    Carroll Carman

  • Salary increases for the sheriff’s department based on time in service, at a cost of $238,724;
  • Two additional school resource officers, with the $100,000 cost to be split between the county and the school system; and
  • An increase in the county’s contribution for employee health insurance from $380 per month to $482, at an estimated cost of $106,070.

Carman sat down with The Vidette to discuss his proposed budget, which dips into the county’s respective fund balances.

“This will be subject to the County Court and their leadership,” Carman said. “I presented it as a stable budget, but some of these numbers could go down.”

Carman said “upward pressure” meant the county needed to raise employee pay in order to both keep current personnel and attract new hires.

“The guys on the low end are getting higher raises. I’m trying to help the ones that probably need the help the most,” the mayor said.

Some one-time spending is also included in the budget, such as:

  • A new truck for the county’s building inspector at a cost of $24,000;
  • A new compactor, dumpsters and trash cans for the Convenience Center at a cost of $73,650; and
  • Fencing and paving at the Convenience Center ($14,000).

Some of the raises in the sheriff’s office are as much as $9,000 for longtime employees, something Carman said could be pared back while saying the loyalty and courage of the deputies should be rewarded.

“How much do you pay a man to face a bullet for you?” he asked.

Carman’s budget proposal dips into the county’s fund balance to cover expenses, with $636,884 coming from the general fund and $280,985 from the Urban Services fund. The mayor’s budget estimates that those amounts would respectively be left at approximately $2.73 million and $565,000 at the end of June 2019.

While acknowledging that fund balances would be used to balance the budget, Carman said he felt economic growth and additional property tax collections would make up a substantial portion of the projected deficits.

By law, counties must budget based on collecting 92 percent of available property tax. Trousdale County typically takes in 98 to 99 percent, with 2018 estimates adding almost $240,000 in revenue that was not budgeted.

The mayor added that his budgets typically overestimate costs and underestimate revenues and that the actual need to tap into fund balance could be considerably lower.

“We’re trying to do a whole lot of things with this budget, more than with any other,” he said. “The deficit spending will not be repeated, I expect. We’re in good shape on this, but I do have to convince 11 people.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.