The Cumberland County Commission’s Budget Committee was called upon to adjust figures for the 2020-’21 fiscal year budget as a result of a directive by the Tennessee Department of Education.

The adjustment, however, will not be noticed by taxpayers because of the conservative approach commissioners took in the face of the COVID-19 uncertainty.

The moving of funds for county schools were among routine budget housekeeping chores that the committee approved and will forward to the full commission to OK at the Oct. 19 commission meeting.

School officials had lowered anticipated costs by about $400,000 in accordance with the thought that student population would decrease this year. After months of work on the budget, the final product was approved by the school board, county budget committee and a state agency prior to final approval of the county commission.

However, the state education department did not review the document until after approved, County Finance Director Nathan Brock explained, and it was determined the budget did not meet the maintenance of effort test. This means not enough local contribution was in the budget to meet state guidelines.

Brock explained that the local option sales tax projection was very conservative and that $283,000 from receipts that exceeded projections could be moved over to the school budget to meet the state’s criteria for “the maintenance of effort.”

After all was said and done, the action was a simple housekeeping chore to meet the state’s requirement. Brock said the state education department had been notified of the plan and accepted it to bring the county into compliance with the requirement.

All members of the budget committee in attendance approved to action which will not be voted on by the full commission.

In other budget committee action, the following took place:

•HEARD a report from County Mayor Allen Foster about negotiations for the purchase of the Alpha Equipment property owned by Tommy Pelfrey and located at Hwy. 70 N. and Northside Dr. Members of the buildings and grounds committee visited the site last month.

Asking price for the building and property is $1.5 million. Issues like moving costs, construction of covering for sand and salt resources and other options are being worked on. 

Purpose of the purchase is to relocate the entire county road department to one site.

Foster told the committee he anticipated having a report on options related to the purchase at next month’s meeting. That includes what to do with the old county road department site.

•APPROVED a motion recommending the full commission OK receipt of a state grant in the amount of $2,105 to upgrade computer technology. In anticipation of receiving the grant, the Art Circle Library designated funds to cover the matching grant in this fiscal year’s budget.

•RECEIVED a year-to-date report showing Emergency Medical Service collections for the first three months of this fiscal year to be ahead of budget projects by $136,879.

•RECEIVED a report that sales tax collections for the first two months of this fiscal year were up $236,802, despite the COVID-19 economy. Keeping collection projects the same as the previous year helped, Brock said.

•RECEIVED a report from the finance department on the budget performance in the areas of property and hotel/motel taxes and contracted prisoner board at the county jail. As thought, the hotel/motel tax was slightly down compared to pre-pandemic figures recorded the previous year. Other categories reflected increases.


Michael Moser may be reached at