Proposed county budget includes reallocating of property tax cents, cuts to expenses

The Coffee County Commission discussed the proposed budget for 2020-2021 on June 23.

The Coffee County Commission discussed the proposed budget for 2020-2021 on June 23. Coffee County Budget and Finance Committee members have worked for months to present a budget, cutting expenses in attempt to tackle the uncertain situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission is expected to vote on the budget this month.

With the pandemic impacting businesses, the county is preparing for a reduction in revenues. One of the revenue streams that’s expected to suffer is sales tax revenue, which is reduced by approximately 31%.

To avoid a spike of the county’s deficit, the budget and finance committee has taken several steps, including reallocating property tax cents. The proposal includes decreased property tax 2.5 cents in the Capital Projects Fund and 4 cents in the General Debt Service Fund, and then moving those property tax cents (6.5 cents) to the General Fund, for an estimated boost of the General Fund of $778,913.

Working to find ways to cut costs, budget and finance committee members have cut travel expenses. The proposal reduces travel, training and mileage budgets by 45%, for estimated savings of more than $60,000.

For several years county officials have expressed desire to increase the paychecks of county employees across the board in the form of cost of living adjustment (COLA). While the county is not currently in the position to offer COLA raises, the proposed budget includes the normal step raises for all departments, effective July 1. Employees must have worked for six months prior to July 1. The proposed budget does include a 15% increase of the hourly rate for convenience center operators.

A large part of the cuts in costs is related to a reduction of expenditures funding the Coffee County Communications Center, an amount of $419,862. The budget and finance committee voted on May 27 to transfer the obligation for covering payroll costs at the communications center from the county to the 911 board, effective Jan. 1, 2021.

The proposed budget includes purchasing two school buses for about $220,000. It also increases the funds for the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center, from 126,225 to $156,370.

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