No property tax hike likely for county

If all goes as Blount County Finance Director Dave Bennett predicts, commissioners will not raise property taxes this year.

Bennett said the budget committee met at their May meeting and recommended a balanced budget with no departments asking for raises except for schools. The school department would get $75.2 million, or $3.2 million less than they asked for in the budget.

Bennett said the budget committee will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 8, at the Blount County Courthouse regarding the budget. Then the measure would go to the work session on Tuesday, June 9, and commissioners would vote on it 10 days later on the third Thursday of the month, he said.

“No property tax increase is recommended,” he said.

Bennett said decreasing sales tax revenues have hurt the Highway department and Schools department.

“We had to cut the highway budget. Last year our amended budget in the highway fund was $6.7 million. This year’s recommended budget is $5.6 million,” he said.

Bennett said the same thing applied in the school department. “The school budget last year with sales taxes was $11,254,000 and our estimate for the next budget is $10,093,000, so that’s about a $1.2 million decrease,” he said.

Bennett said the total proposed budget for the entire county in 2009-10 is $156,395,919.

“That’s the entire budget - schools, debt service - everything. The budget we’re under now is $162.8 million, so the base 2009-10 recommended budget coming out of budget committee is $6.5 million less than the budget we’re in,” he said.

Bennett said he’s not aware of any layoffs. Bennett said that in the Schools department, there are positions in the budget where people are retiring, and they’re not going to fill them. “They’re absorbing some of that,” he said.

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