JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL)–The Washington County Tennessee Commission met Thursday to consider how to make up for a multi-million dollar budget deficit without raising property taxes. County leaders say reallocating money typically reserved for schools might solve the shortfall.
Tennessee counties are required by law to reserve half of their local sales tax revenue for schools; however, Washington County has historically given the remainder of rural option sales tax collected in the county to Johnson City and Washington County school systems.
This year, that might change.
County Mayor Joe Grandy told News Channel 11 the county would not be cutting funding from schools, but “moving the flow into the county general fund rather than having to go to the taxpayers and ask them for more money.”
Grandy said the reallocated revenue totals around $4 million.
Grandy says the county is already working to pinch pennies.
“We have worked diligently to try to move other monies around, not do projects that were planned, take other measures to make the dollars stretch,” said Grandy.
Grandy says property tax revenue has remained stable, while staffing costs, especially for emergency personnel, have increased.
“The changes are not in general government spending, other than salaries,” said Grandy.
Grandy says a tax increase could still be on the table–but that the county is working hard to avoid including it in the final budget.
The Washington County Budget Committee is still working to finalize its spending plan. Grandy said the plan should be published on June 9.