Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Glade Sun

June 3, 2014

County commissioners absent from education budget talks

CROSSVILLE — As many of you know, I usually inform you about how the Cumberland County government works through its committees in addition to the responsibilities of each of committees. This week, I would like to express my dismay as to the lack of participation, as well as support, for the school and education committee from our county commissioners.

As I explained in a past report, the school and education committee's duty is to work with the Cumberland County Board of Education on all matters pertaining to bond requests, as well as on all long range programs of education in the county. It's responsibility includes any new funding requests for amounts greater than $5,000, along with voicing their approval of the yearly budget as set by the board.

This committee is made up of nine members, one from each district in the county. I was appointed chairman of the education committee and I have chaired numerous meetings on various school subjects.

This past week, a meeting was called to give the director of schools in Cumberland County and the board of education a chance to explain the 2014-'15 budget prior to it going to the budget committee. The task of this committee is to listen to the first reading of the new budget.  Questions are asked giving the superintendent the opportunity to explain. Then, when all are satisfied with the results, it is sent on to the budget committee with their recommendation to either approve it or pass it on with no recommendation from the committee.

The importance of this meeting is not only for the nine members on the education committee but to the remaining nine members of the commission. This enables them the opportunity to get first hand information and ask questions on items that take up more than half of our yearly county budget. Once the school's portion is subtracted from the total tax revenue, the remaining money is all the commission has left to run the county for the remainder of the fiscal year. If the amount is not enough, the commission might have to raise the individual property tax to make up the difference.

You would think that all 18 of our county commissioners would be in attendance for something that takes up half of your tax dollars! For the voters' information, only one other committee member, other than myself, was in attendance. We did have, however, three other commissioners present who were not on the committee. In fact, we had more members of the Cumberland County school administration staff and board of education members than we had county commissioners in attendance.

This is one of the most important issues relating to Cumberland County expenditures, which totals more than $50 million. Interest in this matter did  not seem to be  there for two-thirds of the members of our county commission.

I'm writing this because, in August, you will be voting for nine new county commission members, as well as nine old members who want to be re-elected. Please do your community a favor and pay attention to who truly wants to serve in our county government and properly monitor the spending of your tax dollars.

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