Showdown at the County Courthouse
Round two of the Hardeman County Commission’s battle of the budget is set for June 20 in the Hardeman County Courthouse Courtroom.
Hardeman County Mayor Jimmy Sain broke an 8-all tie to pass the 2017-2018 Hardeman County Budget on the first reading on May 16.
Mayor Sain broke the tie after the debate that centered on the county schools funding. Sain wanted to shave four cents off last years school budget due to a decrease in students in the county, but the schools have asked that the county only cut two cents to bring the rate back to $1.48 from $1.50.
“The county is recovering from a financial crisis. The budget committee has been very successful meeting goals by cutting expenses without asking the schools for concessions. The past two years they could have cut over 15 cents of the school tax rate, but chose not to. This year the budget committee asked the county to cut four cents and the schools to cut four cents. The county has complied,” said Sain.
Superintendent of Schools Warner Ross said the schools are sympathetic to the plight.
“We recognize there are challenges at the county level, and we want to work with the county, so we developed our budget at $1.48,” he said.
The budget passed in May did not give a tax rate, but Sain says the tax burden will not be increased.
“We have no plans to raise the overall rate of $2.55,” explained Sain. “Every surrounding county has a lower tax rate. We need to compete in West Tennessee. That means keeping the rate low and living within our means. Our committee is smart, conservative, and has been proven very successful in the past three years.”
The Hardeman County Budget Committee consists of chairperson Jerry Watkins, Junior Jimmerson and three county commissioners: Elmer Cobb, Jackie Sain and Jim Daniel.
According to the University of Tennessee County Technical Advisory Service’s Wesley Robertson, Hardeman County ranks #4 in the state in the percentage of its budget spent on education.
Five of the nine schools in Hardeman County have less than 400 students.
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