Rhea County panel warned about excessive spending

Rhea County panel warned about excessive spending

October 17th, 2012 by Tom Davis in Local Regional News

Rhea County Councilman Bill Graham

DAYTON, Tenn. - Rhea County commissioners Tuesday spent about $41,000 from their fund balance, more than 10 percent of the funds available, and Budget Committee members renewed their call to stop spending.

Finance Director Bill Graham said most of the unbudgeted expenditures were to cover expenditures completed before the 2012-13 budget was adopted in September.

"When you have a continuing budget, you give department heads authority to spend up to what they had last year," he said. "We spent more than we had or overspent a line item."

He said Tuesday's actions dropped the fund balance to "about $335,000 or $340,000." But he added "you probably won't have this kind of hit to fund balance" the rest of the year.

He told committee members the county general fund has about $146,000 in cash, and he is waiting for state approval to borrow $500,000 from the Rhea County Department of Education. He said he hopes that money plus property taxes received before the end of the year will carry the county through February, when the bulk of that money generally is collected.

Graham said the solid waste fund is in particular straits.

"In the past four years the county has spent $1.4 million [more than] revenue in waste disposal," he said. "If you don't completely stop now, you're going to have to raise revenue."

Commissioner Grover Parks suggested the commission consider closing convenience centers by half of their scheduled time.

But Budget Committee Chairman Ron Masterson responded, "What are we going to do with the garbage?"

Commissioner Ronnie Raper added, "You'll have double the garbage other days."

And, he said, "We may have layoffs before March. Something's got to give. We'll have to raise taxes or lay off people."

Tom Davis lives in Dayton. Contact him at tsdavis@volstate.net.