WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – In a unanimous vote, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners chose not to redirect funding away from county and Johnson City schools on Thursday.
In a special called meeting, members of the public spoke their concerns that the proposed budget would strip schools of much-needed funding in FY2022.
Eight people spoke at the public meeting Thursday. All of them were in opposition of any kind of school budget cuts.
“This is wrong ethically, it is wrong to rob students and is wrong because of the blatant disrespect and hardship it piles on students, parents and teachers, especially after overcoming some of most difficult challenges and traumas of our lifetime,” parent and teacher Jamie Freeman said during the meeting.
“Don’t take away $3.1 million from our schools. Let’s keep this investment in our children and our future,” parent Paula Treece said.
The proposed change would have diverted roughly $3 million in sales tax dollars from local schools and into the county’s fund balance, where commissioners are concerned over a similarly sized shortfall.
While the shortage would not immediately affect county operation, commissioners explained that the savings are needed to provide roughly four months of expenses to maintain the county’s Bond Rating.
Discussion and procedure questions ruled the day after all present commissioners voted to return the proposed budget to committee with new recommendations: leave the school money alone and find another way.
How that money would be sourced is still up in the air. Potential solutions proposed included property tax increases, budget cuts and elimination of charitable spending.
Rather than commit to one direction, commissioners elected to adjourn for the day and send the proposed budget back to the budget committee. A regularly scheduled commission meeting will take place on Monday. Commissioners hope to have more answers then.