Courthouse (copy)

The Finance Committee has forwarded the 2021-22 fiscal budget to the County Commission that includes a 2.5 percent pay hike for employees with dispatchers also getting a $1.50-per-hour raise.

The commission will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Courthouse, marking its first return since the COVID-19 pandemic forced meetings to be held in socially distanced accommodations at the Annex Building.

Commissioner David Eldridge, a Finance Committee member, told the committee on July 6 that he had gathered information about pay scales from other Tennessee counties, and Franklin County’s dispatchers are among the lowest paid.

Eldridge said the turnover rate, due to the lower pay scale, has left the county spending money to train dispatchers who seek higher-paying jobs in other counties.

He added that the pay raise would offset the training costs expended on lost employees.

Committee members discussed giving the $1.50-per-hour raise in lieu of the 2.5 percent pay hike, but agreed to include both to be more competitive in attracting and retaining dispatchers.

County department heads presented their requests to the Finance Committee in meetings on June 15 and June 17, and they were approved and included in the total budget which totals $88.674 million, with the top funding items including $20.7 million for county government operations, $46.775 million going to the school system and $6.103 million going toward debt service. Last year’s overall budget totaled $85.783 million.

In addition to dispatchers getting an hourly pay boost beyond the 2.5 percent pay increase, the budget includes upping the correctional officers’ rates by $2 per hour.

Sheriff Tim Fuller recently told the Finance Committee that enough correction officers have not been available to open the new part of the jail.

He added that the jail has also lost several employees in the last couple of months.

The committee agreed the pay hike may make a difference in attracting and retaining correctional officers.

Eldridge said recently in an initial look at the budget that the county appears to be spending $1.77 million more than it is taking in.

He added that some of the expenses were not recurring, and the revenue picture is based on a one-year scenario.

Eldridge said the county has been given a break from the state through a Basic Education Program waiver where the county is not being penalized with a reduced amount due to having fewer students in the school system.

However, he said that situation may change in subsequent years, and the county could be faced with reduced BEP appropriations.

Eldridge said 265 fewer students could translate into a $2.6 million reduction in annual BEP proceeds.

“Our eyes need to be wide open,” he said, referring to how the county should analyze how it sets its budgets.

In addition to the county general budget including a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise for employees, the benefit is also being extended to school system employees.

Department budget requests approved by the Finance Committee include:

  • Election Commission, $259,972.
  • Register of Deeds, $392, 717.
  • Planning and Zoning Department, $162,726.
  • County Clerk’s Office, $641, 784.
  • Community Reentry, $192,559.
  • Sheriff’s Office, $4.236 million.
  • Administration of Sex Offender, $17,735.
  • Litter Grant, $44,033.
  • Drug Fund, $71,500.
  • Animal Control, $258,449.
  • Library, $403,295.
  • Solid Waste, $1,877,139.
  • Parks and Recreation, $116,850.
  • Health Department (for maintenance of effort), $33,800.
  • Health Department, $192,534, and appropriation to the state, $30,646.
  • New Life Center, $17,775.
  • Franklin County Senior Citizens, $25,050.
  • Senior Citizens, Sewanee, $9,450.
  • Soil Conservation, $92,011.
  • Chamber of Commerce, $40,000.
  • Tennessee Rehab Center, $111,330.
  • Veterans Services, $93,665.
  • Economic and Community Development, $355,025.
  • Circuit Clerk, $1,036,707.
  • Trustee, $347,680.
  • Chancery Court, $243,312.
  • Budget for Probation, $159,758.
  • Emergency Management Agency, $167,713.
  • Rescue Squad, $35,000.
  • Property Assessor, $610,078.
  • General Sessions, $318,050.
  • Juvenile Court, $137,802.
  • Judicial Commissioner, $171,591.
  • Juvenile Service Grant, $42,500.
  • Drug Court, $103,008.
  • Consolidated Communications, $865,587.
  • Agriculture Extension, $116.850.
  • County Commission, $343,253.
  • Beer Board, $625.
  • County Mayor, $201,091.
  • County Building Maintenance, $1,264,667.
  • Information Technology Services, $180,150.
  • Finance Department, $741,119.
  • Industrial Development Board, $534,924.
  • Other Charges, $1,004.925.
  • Capital Outlay, $390,403.
  • County Rural Fund, $1,080,100.
  • Public Safety Grants, $33,979.
  • Drug Court Grant and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Grant, $70,000 and $400,000.
  • Other Administration of Justice Grant, $40,000.