Warren County commissioners were in an approving mood Monday night, at least when it came to accepting a committee recommendation on setting a property tax rate, allocation of monies to departments, and donations to local organizations.
For fiscal year 2021-22, the Warren County Commission unanimously approved the property tax rate stay at $1.96, accepted a consolidated budget as it was presented, and agreed a list of contributions to nonprofit and civic organizations remain unchanged.
“It’s not perfect, but it is as close to perfect as we could get it,” said Commissioner Scott Rubley, chair of the county Budget and Finance Committee, in reference to the consolidated budget.
No amendments were suggest by the other 17 commissioners in attendance. Absent from the meeting were Commissioners Randy England, Steve Glenn, Joseph Stotts, Ron Lee, Carl E. Bouldin and Kasey Owens.
Included in the county budget, which runs from July 1 through June 30, is a 50-cent salary increase for full-time county employees and a 25-cent salary increase for part-time employees. Additionally, full-time employees will receive a $500 one-time bonus, and part-time employees will receive a $250 one-time bonus.
EMS Department employees are excluded from the bonus. They received a bonus in April. All county employees who received a salary increase in fiscal year 2020-21, of which only a handful did, are excluded from this year’s salary increase.
Not every employee was happy with the financial windfall or lack thereof.
“Some employees were satisfied and some were not,” said Rubley. “We tried to be fair and this was the best we could do.”
Rural fire departments were provided a slight financial increase from the previous year – from $9,428 to $10,000 – on the county’s allocation list.
“All departments are extremely grateful for the generosity of the County Commission with the extra funding,” said North Warren Fire Department Chief Ramie Roberts. “While it is only a portion of our annual funding needs, it is greatly appreciated.”
Fire departments began requesting additional funding from the county over a decade ago to compensate for property owners not paying their dues which was creating a threat: no money meant no ability to provide fire protection.
The county once gave only $500 to each department per year, but that amount was up to $3,000 per department in 2017. Since that time, the county has steadily increased its contribution.
Commissioners were also unanimous in their decision to push the June 2022 meeting day back one week, from the third Monday to the fourth Monday. The date change was successful this year in helping Warren County government meet the state’s requirement that local governments have their fiscal year budgets set by July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year, and removed the need for a special called session.