After allowing the mayor’s veto of a controversial and erroneous budget to stand, the Anderson County Commission did not agree on a new tax levy or spending resolution during a four-and-a-half-hour long meeting Monday night. Instead, after much discussion and three 8-8 votes, the Commission ultimately decided to send the matter back to the Budget Committee.
The Commission never officially voted on the vetoes issued by the Mayor that we, and other media outlets, have been reporting on, but rather took no action, which in effect allowed the vetoes to stand. Three separate votes ended in 8-8 ties, meaning that they failed, including one that would have simply corrected the error in the tax levy resolution that left .1054 cents out of the debt service for Clinton and Oak Ridge, and left the 18.25-cent property tax rate increase in place. Commissioners also deadlocked on a resolution to convene a joint workshop between the full County Commission and the Budget Committee, as well as a motion to let all three of the Mayor’s vetoes stand.
In the short-term, county business will continue under a de facto continuing resolution that caps any spending at last year’s levels, and the hefty property tax increase that was passed 9-7 during a special called meeting on June 27th will not go into effect.
Instead, the county Budget Committee will meet on August 8th at 4 pm in room 312 of the Courthouse, where two members–Commissioners Shain Vowell and Rick Meredith–say they are anxious to see the “rabbits in the hats” they may have missed during six-plus months of deliberation that several commissioners believe they may have found in their research following the controversial June vote, which has been met with widespread and vocal opposition. During the public comment period, however, at least two members of the audience asked commission to approve the budget as proposed with the tax increase so the county can move forward. A couple more citizens spoke in favor of a wheel tax, so that the burden is spread among not only those who own property, but also those who own cars.
All commissioners, especially those who believe they may have found revenue streams that were missed in the budget process, were encouraged to attend the August 8th meeting, and most if not all of the 16 member panel indicated they would attend.
By statute, the county must have its spending and tax levy resolutions submitted to the state by August 31st.
We will continue to follow the budget as it winds its way back to committee.