Deadline approaching for Hawkins Co. to balance budget; state says it’s rare to have to step in

HAWKINS COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Hawkins County Commissioners have less than two months to balance its budget before the state of Tennessee steps in.

The county is currently facing a $2 million deficit for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Comptroller’s Office said it is very rare to have to step in and make a decision.

The Chief of Staff, Jason Mumpower, told News Channel 11 that balancing the budget is the most important thing Hawkins County Commissioners have to do.

“I would say there’s nothing typical about this situation. It is an unfortunate situation that is more than we usually see,” Mumpower said.

We told you in March that the Comptroller’s Office warned commissioners to amend and balance its budget by July first, or the state will step in.

“We don’t want to do it, it’s not something that’s normally done, it wont be pleasant for anybody,” Mumpower said.

He said there are many methods they can use to reach a balanced budget, by either making a reduction in expenditures or by raising revenue.

Budget Committee Chairman and commissioner, Stacy Vaughan, said commissioners have voted against a proposed wheel tax several times.

“A $40 increase to the wheel tax has failed, $25 has failed and a $20 wheel tax has failed,” he said.

He said the next option is a property tax increase and possible cuts, which Mumpower says would be the step the state would take.

“We would come in with a reduction in expenditures and cuts to the budget in mind,” Mumpower said.

“I don’t think the state will have to step in,” Vaughan said. He said he does not want to have to cut from non-profit organizations.

“It would significantly hurt the residents such as fire protection, EMS, rescue squad, emergency services,” Vaughan said.

In the meantime, the clock is ticking for commissioners to make a tough decision.

“They have the most fundamental, most important duty they have been elected to do ahead of them and I think we all hope that they can achieve that by July 1,” Mumpower said.

The comptroller’s office says the County Technical Advisory Service has been in Hawkins County helping commissioners come up with ways to balance the budget.

The budget committee meets again Thursday.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

 

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