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County budget committee doles out $135,000

The Washington County Budget Committee on Monday approved $135,000 in funding requests despite being told recently by accountants it should try not to move more money from its unappropriated surplus.
The three requests still have to be approved by the full commission, which meets Aug. 23 at 6 p.m., but they faced little to no opposition in the committee meeting.
The first request was brought up by Mayor George Jaynes, who said the county “obligated” itself to contributing to Johnson City’s planned Veterans Memorial Park when it donated to the construction of Jonesborough’s Veterans Park.
He suggested a one-time payment of $50,000 from the county’s unappropriated surplus to the capital campaign.
Commissioner Mark Ferguson asked how much had been given to Jonesborough’s Veterans Park.
“I can’t tell you exactly, but it was at $50,000,” Jaynes answered, adding that most of money was contributed through construction work and labor at the park.
“Right now is a tough time to give $50,000, and I support the veterans,” Ferguson said. “It blows my mind, [Johnson City] can brag about its surplus and see the shape we’re in, and they ask us for money.”
The budget committee approved the request and passed it on to the full commission.

The second request was brought by Commissioner Pete Speropolus from the public safety committee for $30,000 to give the nine county constables radios.
Commissionrer Mark Larkey has worked with the Town of Jonesborough, who will let the constables radios fall under their administration. The $30,000 will buy 10 radios, including one for Jonesborough officials to monitor.
That motion was approved and also passed on to the full commission.
Finally, Highway Department Superintendent Johnny Deakins asked the budget committee to approve the purchase of the building on Third Street for $55,000, which the highway department currently leases for $750/month.
The department has already paid $42,000 in its years of leasing the building.
The department needs the extra storage space, Deakins said, especially because it has come time to replace all the signs in the county, and has purchased extra equipment that it needs to store.
That purchase was also approved and send on to the full commission.
Director of Schools Ron Dykes presented the schools’ quarterly budget ending June 30, 2010, which showed the system collecting 99.7 percent of revenues, or around $61.1 million. The schools spent 96.4 percent of expenditures, or about $60 million.
The school system finished in the black for the third year in a row, Dykes noted.
In good news, Dykes said the most recent sales tax figures came in $28,000 above expected, making it five out of the last six months that figures were positive.
“That could be an indicator the economy is turning,” Dykes said. “I certainly hope so.”
In budget news, the school board meets today at 4:30 p.m. at the Central Office to decide where to allocate the most recent $255,000 received from the county.