Courthouse

The Franklin County Commission approved its $85.783 million budget for the 2021 fiscal year on July 20 with no property tax increase.

The vote was 14-0. Commissioners Sam Hiles and Scottie Riddle were absent from the meeting.

The budget, which continues funding at last year’s levels, does not include across-the-board salary increases, but elected officials will be receiving pay hikes according to state law, Finance Director Andrea Smith said.

The budget includes a $45.398 million appropriation for the school system.

The school system recently had to deal with a $337,000 decrease in state Basic Education Program funding which resulted in no pay increases for its employees.

The board, after considering whether the pay raises could be included, opted earlier in a unanimous decision to hold off on the additional funding.

The board agreed to consider adding in additional compensation later in the school year if the system’s financial conditions are stable. The school system receives its funding from the county, state and federal governments and has no revenue-generating authority.

The county tax rate will remain at $2.56 per $100 in assessed property valuation for Winchester, Sewanee and Tullahoma residents who receive some of their services from their municipal governments. That means the annual taxes on a $100,000 home will remain at $640.

The rate for cities except Sewanee, Winchester and Tullahoma is at $2.80 with the annual taxes on a $100,000 at $700.

The rate for rural residents is $2.87 with the annual taxes on a $100,000 home costing $717.50.

The County Commission has been faced with questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect funding in the upcoming fiscal year.

 County Mayor David Alexander said recently that although state sales tax collections are remaining stable despite the impact from the COVID-19 threat, the state is holding off on appropriating money due to uncertainty of the overall impact.

He said residents have received $1,200 stimulus checks, and employees who have been laid off from work have been receiving unemployment benefits.

Alexander said the stimulus checks were a one-time shot, and the $600 weekly unemployment payments, provided through the coronavirus federal appropriation, are soon to run out.

He said that although Tennessee has $4 billion at hand, including $1 billion in a rainy-day fund and $3 billion in reserve funds, state officials are viewing the current financial situation as a “sugar high” that could abruptly end, leading to a major financial shortfall.

“That’s why they are reluctant to make a decision,” Alexander said.