The Blount County Commission passed a $41 million budget during their June 17 meeting, but the focus of much discussion was a motion to give the Highway Department $1 million to obtain matching grant funds from the federal government.
The commission also agreed to a $77 million schools budget for the fiscal year beginning July1. The budget passed with no tax increase planned. The property tax rate would remain at $2.23 per $100 of assessed value. The school system will use $1.3 million in fund balance to help open Union Grove Elementary School and Union Grove Middle School this fall.
The resolution to make the appropriations for the year beginning July 1 was made in a motion by Gary Farmer and seconded by John Keeble. The measure passed unanimously with Monika Murrell abstaining. Commission Chair Robert Ramsey wasn’t present.
Commissioner Ron French started the discussion regarding helping the Highway Department with a motion to give the department more than the $200,000 in his appeal, but an extra $800,000 to use for matching federal grants.
“I feel like we need to step up to the plate,” French said. “I hate to miss the opportunity of getting Federal 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 matching money. We’ve got the opportunity to do something. I want to amend the appropriation and allot $1 million to the transportation department so we can grab that money before it goes away. I propose we take it from fund balance,” he said.
Commissioners voted down the motion 16 to 4 with commissioners French, Holden Lail, Mark Hasty and Mike Walker voting “yes.”