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Overton Commissioners Hear Budget Proposal

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Overton Commissioners Hear Budget Proposal

Overton County Commissioners got a look Monday night at County Executive Steven Barlow’s proposed budget which includes a 70-cent property tax increase.

County Commissioners will meet Tuesday night to begin their deliberations. The proposed budget sets property taxes at some $2.67. Barlow said keeping up with soaring prices is challenging when taxes have not been raised since 2015.

“That’s the reason why it’s a little up,” Barlow said. “And I know it’s hard to chew on because nobody wants to raise taxes, but we don’t have the money to run the offices on ten years ago money.”

Budget Director Connie York said the tax levy would bring in some $11.7 million in additional revenue, $8.8 million to the general fund. The budget includes some $21 million in expenses, up some $6 million from the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Barlow said much-needed $3 raises are included in the proposed budget as well.

“They’re reasonable,” Barlow said. “I mean, it’s not up to where it needs to be, but that’s all we can do. Three dollars. We’re losing employees left and right.”

Barlow said the Ambulance Service has lost 14 employees in a year and the Sheriff’s Department is six deputies behind. He said the Sheriff’s Department is basically training officers to go somewhere else.

He said he is trying to build a budget that allows the county to hold onto employees when some could make another $5 an hour by working right down the road.

“They gave a $2 raise a couple of years ago,” Barlow said. “They didn’t raise the property tax to cover that $2 raise, so, basically, we’re looking at covering $5 because three years ago, they did give a $2 raise.”

Barlow said with the American Rescue Plan running out, the county does not have a backup plan anymore. He said without that revenue, raising taxes is the only answer. He said the county has reached the point of missing out on grants because it cannot afford to pay the match.

“It is definitely hard to avoid,” Barlow said.

The Overton County Sheriff’s Department has some $2.9 million budgeted for the year, with the Overton County Jail budgeting some $2.7. The final deficiency in revenue from the total budget currently sits at some $1.6 million, pending further adjustment from the Commissioners.

The Commission will also hear from the Overton County School System on Wednesday as it prepares to send a budget draft to full court.


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