WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Washington County Fiscal Year 2022-23 Budget was finalized and passed in a June 23 commission meeting, with several standout changes from last year.
From 2021-22’s budget to next year’s, the Board of Commissioners agreed to allocate over five million additional dollars to the county’s general fund. Part of this included a 5% baseline raise for all county employees, as well as additional raises to those in key sectors across the county.
“Washington County employees represent the biggest and most important asset that the county has to serve its citizens,” said Fred Malone, District 8 commissioner for Washington County. “And so I am thankful that we were able to do a substantial increase for all employees, and then a little even better increase for a few significant or key positions.”
Some of those key positions included CDL drivers, teachers and patrol officers with the sheriff’s office.
All of this, without a change in property or sales taxes for the upcoming year.
For property taxes, which were held at $2.15 for every $100 of taxable property, the budget estimates a collection of $12,974,151 throughout the fiscal year. That number is identical to last year’s, and Malone said rising property values can take time before they appear as actual revenue.
“The real estate tax, it is a really stable source of revenue,” Malone said. “But it does take some time for it to actually translate into significant or meaningful dollars to the budget.”
Money, of course, has to come from somewhere. In the General Fund, cuts came in the form of budget reductions in several sectors:
- Codes Compliance (5%)
- Environmental Courtesy Clean-up (4%)
- Pauper Burials (25%)
- Juvenile Services (11%)
- District Attorney General’s Office (10%)
The county’s reappraisal program saw a 27% increase in funding for 2022-23, including a 660% increase in data processing equipment funds. The windfall took last year’s total of $5,000 up to $38,000, setting up the office for a closer look at the county’s property valuations in the next year.
Washington County teacher funds increased by $4,097,757, bringing the total for the system’s roughly 414 teachers to $28,749,474. The county estimated revenue of $18 million from local option sales taxes, all of which is earmarked for the system. In monthly breakdowns covered during the June 27 commission meeting, county documents show that every month this year has outpaced the last two in terms of sales tax revenue.
For the sheriff’s office, a 16% increase in budget translated to significant changes in some line items. Deputy salary budget allocations increased by $637,848 (22%) year-to-year, totaling over $3.5 million in FY22-23. The officer and support staff pension budget increased by 50%, bringing the total up to $789,326 for the year. Another $165,000 was allocated to the department for gasoline, a 54% increase from the previous year. Liability insurance costs also saw a significant rise, with a 71% increase taking the total to $164,000 for the year.
The Washington County Jail saw a 13% increase in budget overall, most of which came from an additional $828,788 for deputies in the system. A similar swell in pension funds was also seen, with an increase of $226,371 (57%).
Juvenile Services saw an 11% decrease in funds, largely stemming from the removal of over $51,000 in funds for paraprofessionals in the program.