E-911 and jail still on the table for major cuts from 2015/2016 budget

Posted By | August 4, 2015 7:25 am

With a looming deadline of Aug. 31 that is enforced by State of Tennessee, White County commissioners are persistently working on a balanced budget after the recent discovery of a loss of approximately $1 million in revenue generated by Sheriff Oddie Shoupe from the housing of state inmates.

In recapping previous budget stories, State of Tennessee had been paying a per diem rate to White County for housing inmates who would otherwise have served their sentences in a state correctional facility. This money went into the county’s coffers. However, the state recently removed all state inmates from the jail because of lack of adequate bathroom facilities.

This lack of projected revenue was stacked on top of the $272,000 that had already been cut from the original proposed 2015/2016 fiscal plan in an effort to provide a balanced budget.

Committee members presented the proposed budget to commissioners during the July 20, 2015, meeting of the county’s legislative body, which was voted down. However, this budget had been drafted before commissioners were aware of the additional $1 million deficit.

(White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson)

White County E-911 still remains at the top of the list for the largest decrease in funding, with the budget committee recommending cutting an approximate $85,000 from the county’s contribution.

During the July 27, 2015, meeting of the budget committee, Mack Johnson, budget committee member and chairman of the county commission, said, “It’s hard to fund 9-1-1 knowing they’ve got a million dollars in the bank.”

Suzi Cash, director of E-911, said the communications district actually has $500,000 in the bank, not $1 million, and the money is set aside for capital outlay projects. Cash said the money would soon be depleted by replacing outdated equipment.

Commissioner Harold England asked about the money that E-911 would be using to purchase a new building.

E-911 Board of Directors has been searching for a new location for the communications center. The space at the existing site on Crossville Highway is limited, and Cash said numerous other problems exist.

In addition, the property where the center is now located, which was constructed circa 1993, does not belong to E-911. The land was donated by then-county executive Ernest Bennett to be used strictly for E-911. When that location ceases to be used for E-911, the property reverts back to the Bennett family.

Cash responded to England’s question and said the money to fund the new building is from funds the county has been holding since 2009.

If the county does cut $85,000 from the E-911 budget, White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson said officials with Tennessee Emergency Communication District have informed E-911 Board of Directors the state will decrease its funding to the local communications district by the same amount.

“Once the state cuts our money, they won’t give it back,” said Cash. “Even if you guys give it back to us, the state won’t ever give it back.”

(White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson)

Bruce Null, county commissioner, who has served several terms on the board, interjected a comment about TECD.

“In the year 2010, we took this exact issue all the way to the [state] board in Nashville at a hearing, and they crammed it down our throats and made us like it,” said Null. “There’s a precedent for what you’re thinking about doing, and you’re not going to like it. We’ve already fought that battle and lost.”

“It made sense to the 9-1-1 board not to invest money into a building that we do not own,” said Matt McBride, county commissioner and member of E-911 Board of Directors.

Bruce Frasier, county commissioner and chairman of the budget committee, reviewed each county department’s budget and said almost all of them were less than last fiscal year’s budgets.

“Those people are staying in line,” said Frasier. “They’re not our problem.”

Cain Rogers, budget committee member and member of E-911 Board of Directors, said the problem cannot be fixed in one budget cycle.

“We don’t know what to do – to be honest with you – at   this point,” said Mack Johnson, budget committee member and chairman of the county commission.

Commissioner Karen Lafever, who serves on the budget committee, was adamant about her feelings regarding the proposed budget that was presented at the July 20, 2015, commission meeting. Lafever explained why she voted against that budget.

(Commissioner Karen Lafever)

Chad Marcum, White County finance director, presented budget committee members with two options. (This information was also published in the July 30 budget story.)

Option #1: Revenue reduction model – tax rate $1.85

  • Provides for full funding of E-911 ($209,110)
  • Eliminates funding of fuel for volunteer fire departments and rescue squad
  • Eliminates all employee cost-of-living increases
  • Eliminates pay adjustments for animal shelter and judicial commissioners
  • Eliminates for funding for all jail improvements (door locks, window panels, cameras)
  • Eliminates funding certification pay differentials at jail and emergency medical services
  • Eliminates funding for Sparta-White County YMCA
  • Reduces funding for parts at central maintenance
  • Reduces the number of jail staff positions by 10 (unknown legality)
  • Reduces funding for jail food and inmate clothing

Option #2: Revenue Equalization Model – tax rate $2.05

  • Provides for full funding of E-911 ($209,110)
  • Provides funding of fuel for volunteer fire departments and rescue squad
  • Provides for a 3 percent across-the-board cost-of-living increase for employees
  • Provides for pay adjustments for animal shelter and judicial commissioners
  • Provides funding for three new patrol cars for sheriff department
  • Provides funding of $8,000 for Sparta-White County YMCA
  • Provides funding for industrial and economic development activities
  • Corrects general debt service fund losses
  • Reduces funding for jail food and inmate clothing

Average White County residential appraisal is $66,675, which is assessed at 25 percent:

  • At a tax rate of $1.85 per $100 of assessment = $308 in property taxes
  • At a tax rate of $2.05 per $100 of assessment = $342 in property taxes

(White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson)

The next budget meeting will be Aug. 10, 2015, at approximately 6:30 p.m., following the Solid Waste Committee meeting.

comments » 1

  1. Comment by Debbie

    August 5, 2015 at 7:44 am

    I am okay with the increased property tax if funding of E911 and Sheriff department is fully funded. What difference does having a nice house makes if we can’t stay safe. I do have a problem with decreased food funding for the jail and not making necessary improvement for the jail in order to keep staff and inmates safe. The sheriff department would not have lost the 1 million funding from the state if the jail had been kept in good repair. It would seem getting the jail up to state standards so that funding stream could be regained would be a priority.

The comments are closed.

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