HAWKINS COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – The State of Tennessee is warning Hawkins County to either balance the budget or see a cut in commissioner pay.
If the county does not balance the budget, commissioners may also have to pay 100% of their insurance premiums.
If the state cuts commissioners’ salary and insurance premiums, that will put tens of thousands of dollars back into the general fund. That’s only a portion of the $2 million deficit that the county is currently facing.
But the state says it would be a step in the right direction.
The Chief of Staff for the Tennessee Comptroller, Jason Mumpower, told commissioners they would be the first to face the ramifications for not fulfilling their only job.
“It will be a small way to start, but if the commissioners are failing to meet their really only responsibility it would probably be the best place to start,” Mumpower said.
Hawkins County has 21 commissioners. They each currently make $100 per commission meeting and $50 per committee meeting.
But Mumpower says if the state steps in, their salary would be reduced to the state law mandated minimum salary of $35 a day for attending a full commission meeting and $17.50 per day for a committee meeting.
Last year there were 13 commission meetings and 72 committee meetings.
Hawkins County paid its commissioners $23,900 for those commission meetings and $25,450 for the committee meetings.
At the amended rate, commissioners would make just over $18,000 for attending those same meetings.
That’s a savings of roughly $30,000 per year.
Last year Hawkins County Commissioners had more than $26,000 in health insurance, $3,500 in social security and $2,000 in retirement.
Health insurance for the 2017-2018 fiscal year is projected to be $49,000.
Mumpower says state law does not require commissioners to be supplemented for their health insurance.
Budget Committee Chairman Stacy Vaughan says he has introduced a resolution to cut the amount of money for committee meetings in half and a resolution for the county to stop paying for commission health insurance.
A proposed wheel tax increase has been voted down several times.
But Vaughan said he will also bring up an out-of-order resolution for another wheel tax increase at the next called meeting. He said it will be $40, with $30 going to the general fund and $10 going to fund public safety.
“I think the wheel tax would need to be $40 in order to cover the expenditures in the budget and to start building the fund balance so that we can start looking ahead and do some pre-planning,” Vaughan said.
Commissioners would have to approve the wheel tax proposal twice.
There are only two scheduled Hawkins County Commission meetings left before the July 1 deadline.
The next meeting is scheduled for May 22 at 7 p.m.
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