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Putnam Co. Budget Chair Wants School Sales Tax Funding Reevaluated

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Putnam Co. Budget Chair Wants School Sales Tax Funding Reevaluated

Putnam County Budget Committee Chair Ben Rogers said going back to a percentage of sales tax funding the school system is something he wants explored this budget season.

The school system and commissioners negotiated a set revenue number in 2008 after a shortfall in revenue.

“I personally would like the schools to get a locked in percentage,” Rogers said. “If we could lock them in what they are getting right now as a percentage wise, let’s say they are getting a flat rate of 17 million, but that is a 68 percent amount, but if we say for now on you’re going to get 68 percent, I think that will help with their growth, as well.”

The 2008 recession caused a drop in sales tax while the school board had already budgeted expenses that could not be met. The school board at the time then approached the county commission asking for help. As a result, the commission flatlined the school system’s sales tax.

“For a couple of years that helped the schools, because of the recession,” Rogers said. “They were guaranteed a certain amount of sales tax. I think it was around 15 million 15.5 somewhere in that area. They were guaranteed that money, as before they were on a percentage. So if a recession had hit, the percentage of sales tax coming in is low. Now that the sales tax has been booming for the last eight, nine, 10 years, the schools have been missing out on that percentage. They are still at a flat rate.”

Commissioners have bumped up the flat rate three times since being put in place. But, according to the current school board, they could have gotten $16 million in growth if the percentage was used. Rogers said it is now the budget committee’s turn to review the future of school funding.

“That’s something nine members of the budget committee have to discuss and consider, especially for this next fiscal year,” Rogers said. “If somehow we can manage the sales tax revenue we’ve been getting in general funds and debt services and keep that for another five or six years, that will be great, and we can give a school a percentage.”

However, Rogers said the unknown is if sales tax revenue will continue to grow in the future.

“The stimulus money has helped the last 12 months from the federal government,” Rogers said. “People are spending money and that has helped our sales tax. But what if we go into another recession? And I talked to the Director of Schools Corby King and his Finance Officer Mark McReynolds about this. I said if we go back into a recession, then you might be looking at maybe wanting that flat rate again. Because, if you get like 68 percent let’s say, and we go into a recession and sales tax bottoms off, then you’re going to get less than the flat rate of 17 million.”

The budget committee will begin the process Monday. Nine members will hear departmental requests from Mayor Randy Porter.


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