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By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Commissioners may face some tough decisions when it comes to the 2019-20 budget for Trousdale County government.

The Budget & Finance Committee has scheduled budget hearings for June 10, 11 and 13 at 6 p.m. each evening in the county courthouse.

“We have a lot of things that are all hitting us at the same time – Streetscape, the landfill, fire truck, other requests,” said County Mayor Stephen Chambers. “It’s a lot of expenditures all at once.”

Chambers told The Vidette that the school budget and debt service would be the focus of the June 10 hearings, with elected offices such as the sheriff and courts on June 11 and remaining general fund and Urban Services District on June 13.

Submitted photo
Stephen Chambers

Complicating the budget planning is the fact that the certified tax rate from the state has not yet been received. Trousdale County underwent a Current Value Update (CVU) recently in which all property in the county was reassessed by the state, which will set a certified tax rate. The last time Trousdale underwent a CVU, the tax rate dropped from $3.10 to an even $3, and was reduced by county commissioners to its current $2.93.

“It makes it difficult because you still don’t know what your penny’s worth,” the mayor said.

The school system has requested just over $900,000 in new funding from the county to replace state funding lost from the Basic Education Program (BEP). Most of that funding loss came due to increased fiscal capacity (ability to pay) by the county.

Commissioners could be forced to choose between raising taxes or eating into the county’s fund balance to cover expenses. Chambers said current projections had the general fund balance at just over $3.7 million as of June 30, but planned expenditures would reduce that to a little over $2.2 million by June 2020.

“If we don’t do a tax increase this year, we’re probably eating into fund balances; some more than others,” Chambers said.

Included in a deficit, however, are one-time expenses such as $644,000 for fixing the old landfill on Gammons Lane and $285,000 for a tanker for the fire department.

The mayor also noted that the projected deficit of $1.5 million could turn out to be less. For the current fiscal year about to end, the projection was for a $636,000 deficit but actual costs should leave a surplus of roughly $66,500.

“You’re looking at deficiency, but that’s overestimating expenditures and underestimating revenue,” Chambers said.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.