Friday, May 22, 2015

County, Board of Ed talk finances

In a joint meeting Thursday night, the Knox County Board of Education and Knox County Commission discussed the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The board requested $441.5 million for operational costs but is currently slotted to receive $435 million. That represents roughly $14 million in new revenues for the school system but it's not enough to cover what the board hoped to get.

At the center of the debate Thursday night - how the two governing bodies can bridge the $6.5 million gap and also come up with a way to build and fund three new proposed schools.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is declining to take on debt to cover construction of the schools.
"We all want a good education system," said Brad Anders, chairman of the Knox County Commission. "It's just a matter of how you pay for it, and how you get there."

BOE members voiced concern about the possibility of cutting a proposed 3 percent pay raise for teachers if the additional money is not added to the school system budget.

"We're very fortunate to have truly professional, expert teachers who care about our kids and are providing great education, and we need to make sure that their compensation reflects that success," said Dr. Jim McIntyre, superintendent of schools.

The county has trimmed the general fund side of the county budget over the last few years, Anders said, so there is not a lot of room to make more cuts.

He said a tax increase is inevitable in the coming years because Knox County has not had a property tax increase since 1999. But that is most likely not an option County Commission will consider this year.

"Do our teachers deserve more pay? Absolutely," Anders said. "But so do our law enforcement, so do our health department employees. So under these revenues, it's gonna be tough to do all that."

For the rest of the story, click RIGHT SMACK HERE.

You know, I initially thought there was a slight chance that the commission would bridge some of the $6.5 million gap (no matter what some commissioners say, there is some money there), but after thinking about it more, I don't believe it will happen.

Anders makes a good point: Essentially, he says, if there's money around for schools, then that really means there's money around for the county.

As for a tax increase? Not happening while Burchett is in office. He won't do it and there's probably not enough on the commission who would. And there's certainly not enough to override a veto.

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