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County prepares for budget process
Cotten, mugshot.jpg

Warren County government has kicked off 2019 by preparing for the upcoming budget process. 

The county’s Budget and Finance Committee was the first to meet this year. On the agenda Thursday was a review of the budget process for fiscal year 2019-20 as presented by Finance Department director Justin Cotten. 

Cotton said a budget calendar must be set by the county Financial Management Committee by Feb. 1, and all department heads, appointed officials and elected officials will be notified to begin the process of analyzing the needs of their departments. Proposed budgets must be submitted to County Executive Jimmy Haley and Cotten.

Budget and Finance Committee members will then meet to consider those budgets and consider a property tax rate for the coming year. Their recommendation will be sent to the county’s Financial Management Committee for approval prior to full Warren County Commission consideration. 

Notably absent from the process are the departmental committees, such as Building and Grounds Committee, Education Committee, Health and Welfare Committee, etc. 

“Usually, we meet to review the budgets first,” said Commissioner Tommy Savage, who is chair of Policy and Personnel Committee. “That’s how we’ve always done it in the past. I’m OK with skipping that part of the process, if that’s what you want to do.” 

Cotten explained this is the new process. 

“That’s workflow,” he said. “I don’t set workflow. This is the process that has to happen in order to set the budget. If the committees want to meet to review departmental budgets, they can. That’s fine.”

Added Haley, “We are trying to streamline the process to make sure the budget is set by June 30. The next fiscal year begins Aug. 1. The state doesn’t like it when you begin a new year but you’re working under an old budget.”

The county’s Financial Management Committee will meet Monday, Jan. 7, at 6:30 p.m. to create a budget calendar, which is a list of deadlines that must be met in order for the 2019-20 fiscal year budget to be set by June 30.