BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
It is a trend that is beginning to resemble limbo -- how low can the county's savings go?
The Greene County Commission will consider on Friday, Aug. 30, a proposed 2013-2014 budget.
The commission will meet at 10 a.m. in the Greene County Courthouse. A 9 a.m. public hearing on the budget will precede the special called meeting.
The proposed budget includes 1.24 percent cuts to expenditures in the General Fund from the 2012-2013 budget. Most of the county departments operate from the General Fund.
Despite the cuts, however, the proposed county budget includes a $720,000 shortfall that would have to come from the county's savings.
The Budget & Finance Committee has attributed this shortfall to the reduction in state and federal inmate-boarding revenues that became necessary during the last year.
The Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) decertified the Greene County Detention Center in 2012 for overcrowding.
The TCI is only allowing the Detention Center a month-by-month certification at this time, based on the county's promised intent to keep state and federal inmate populations as low as possible.
However, it is the housing of those state and federal inmates that in recent years has brought in more than $2.2 million annually to help balance the General Fund budget.
With that projected revenue decreased to about $1.5 million and departmental budgets cut as much a department heads were willing or able to cut them, the Budget & Finance Committee decided to again recommend taking the remaining deficit from the county's savings.
This trend has continued for years as county expenditures have outpaced county revenues and the county government has continued dipping into its savings, also referred to as its "fund balance."
With this practice having continued every fiscal year since 2007-2008, the county's savings are now projected to close out this fiscal year on June 30, 2014, with approximately $2.2 million.
County payroll for the General Fund alone takes about $1.2 million per month, according to Budget Director Mary Shelton.
Many people wait to pay their county property taxes until the weeks just prior to the deadline at the end of February.
That practice causes the county's revenue stream to ebb around the end of the calendar year.
"All the funds have issues. The only ones I'd be excusing from that would be the two school funds -- General Purpose School Fund and Cafeteria Fund," Shelton said in the commission's last budget workshop.
"We have been budgeting from the fund balance ... every year since I've been here.
"We either cut our expenses or increase our revenues.
"One more year and every one of the funds will have to be issuing tax anticipation notes."
The following depicts, in rounded numbers, a summary of all the county funds that the commission will consider for approval on Friday:
* County General Fund: a $720,000 deficit that will reduce its fund balance to $2.2 million.
* Solid Waste/Sanitation Fund: a $134,000 deficit that will reduce its fund balance to $489,000.
* Worker's Compensation and Liability Fund: a $21,000 deficit that will reduce its fund balance to $1.3 million.
* Drug Control Fund: a $33,000 deficit that will reduce its fund balance to $218,000.
* Highway/Public Works Fund: a $1.1 million deficit that will reduce its fund balance to $1.3 million.
* General Purpose School Fund: a $256,000 surplus that will increase its fund balance to $3.4 million.
* Central Cafeteria Fund: a balanced budget that will leave the fund balance the same at $1.1 million.
* General Debt Service Fund: an $80,000 surplus from refinancing the debt that will increase the fund balance to $81,000.
* Education Debt Service Fund: a $7,000 deficit that will reduce its fund balance to $960,000.
* Economic Development Fund: a $17,000 deficit that will reduce its fund balance to $71,000.
The commission will also consider setting the county's property tax levy.
There is no tax increase proposed in the budget to be considered on Friday.
Earlier discussion of a three-cent tax increase on only Greeneville residents was dropped following an August workshop.
The budget proposal does include reallocation of two cents from the Highway Fund's revenue and a half-cent from the Solid Waste Fund's revenue.
The recent property reappraisal resulted in decreased property values. In turn, the state set the county's new certified property tax rate at a higher level in order to bring in the same amount of money as in 2013-2014.
This rate is known as the "certified property tax rate."
The property tax rate for those living inside the city limits would be $1.6613 per $100 of assessed (not appraised) value and $1.8731 per $100 of assessed value for those living outside the city limits.
The individual tax levies that add up to these overall rates include: $0.5992 per $100 to the General Fund, $0.1549 to the Highway Fund, $0.7753 to the General Purpose School fund, $0.0403 to the General Debt Service, $0.0275 to the Self-Insurance Fund, and $0.0641 to Solid Waste.
An additional $0.2118 tax levy for Education Debt Service applies only to property located outside the Greeneville town limits.
Finally, the commission will also consider their annual contributions and appropriations.
The Budget & Finance Committee drastically cut back on the number of contributions that they will propose for the commission to make this year.
The only contributions will include:
* $120,000 to the Greene County Emergency Communications District (911);
* $102,450 to the Greene County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments; and,
* $4,900 to the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad.
The committee also recommended that the county make the annual allocation to the Greeneville-Greene County Public Library, but at a one-year percentage cut equal to the average percentage cut which county departments made: 1.24 percent.
With that reduction, the allocation to the library from the county government would be $83,620 rather than $84,500.
Other allocations would include the annual distribution of hotel/motel tax monies to tourism, economic development and arts and recreation. These hotel/motel tax allocations would total $257,000.
The commission will also consider resolutions to:
* support an "It Can Wait" National Day of Action for the no-texting-while-driving movement;
* add Estate Drive to the official Greene County road list on second reading;
* establish an updated Occupational Safety and Health Program plan, and a plan to provide for a safety director; and,
* make an appointment to the Greene County Civil Service Board.