DOE and Chamber Budget Items

editorial-logo3If you have been trying to keep up with the budgeting process but have lost track of all of the numbers, don’t feel alone. Confusing at best and gibberish at worst, I am not sure that anyone, including those that prepare the budgets and those that vote on them, understands every aspect of the budgeting process. This past week was a big one because non profits presented their requests. For the most part, it went as I expected that it would. Dandridge Fire Department made a run at additional funding due to the large amount of calls that are outside the City limits. Truthfully, Dandridge is answering around 80% of its calls outside of the Town and it does have the responsibility for all County buildings and it has responsibility for around half of the schools in the County. There should be some additional compensation for those departments that answer the majority of their calls outside of the cities that support them. Of course, other departments may be facing the same statistics and it just hasn’t been brought before the County Commission. Jefferson City requested to have the same amount of funding as all other County Fire Departments. They currently have half the funding because they are not first responders outside their own City limits. The rub here is that City tax payers are County tax payers but not all County tax payers are City tax payers. It is a sticky situation for Dandridge and Jefferson City, as well as the other municipalities. So, the issue is going back to the Public Service Committee, where it spent the majority of last year. I don’t look for any funding answers in the near future and that will leave Dandridge to decide if it will take the same tack as Jefferson City and draw a firm line around the Town limits. I understand Jefferson City’s position…you can’t expect your City residents to shoulder the responsibility for the County. I think that most of the Fire Departments work well together, so maybe they can come up with a solution.

The Department of Education will present their budget this week and it will make a lot of Commissioners swallow hard. Even after going back in for cuts, it is still nearly $3 million dollars in the hole. While it is true that the Commission block votes and that the majority are supportive of the DOE, it is going to be a hard sell to even those Commissioners. Raising taxes makes most Commissioners green around the gills and $3 million dollars is a lot of ground to make up for without raising taxes. Of course, politics being politics-who knows? Generally, if something passes the budget committee it will fly with the full body but this may be the exception. I expect that there will be a lot of politicking going on in the next few weeks and some trades will be made. The two hot budgeting items look to be the DOE and the Chamber of Commerce. It may all boil down to who needs what and what it cost to get it, politically speaking. For my money, I wouldn’t be banking on anything just yet. The Budget Committee giveth and the Full Commission can taketh away. Politically Speaking.

Source: K. Depew, News Director