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By DAMON LAWRENCE
Americans are in the midst of some tough economic times.
Gas and food prices are way up and bad news about the economy seems never ending.
Local property owners might be happy to know that those responsible for drafting Roane County’s new fiscal budget don’t anticipate a property tax increase this year.
Following last year’s 25-cent increase and a growth in sales tax revenue, members of the county budget committee say Roane County is in good economic shape.
Funding for the school system is a large part of the county budget.
The school system hasn’t submitted its budget yet, and a lot could change between now and the end of the budget process.
But so far, another property tax increase seems unlikely, according to officials.
“I don’t see any tax increase,” said Commissioner Bobby Collier, who serves on the budget committee. “I can only speak for me, but I don’t see it. Right now we’re in good financial condition.”
Collier, along with fellow commissioners James Brummett, James Harmon and Mike Hooks, County Executive Mike Farmer and budget director Alva Moore make up the budget committee.
“I think we’ll have a balanced budget with no tax increase,” Harmon said. “We haven’t even mentioned a tax increase in the budget process.”
The budget committee has tentatively approved a raise for county employees, but reserves the right to revisit the matter later in the budget process.
As it stands now, county departments will receive a 4.9 percent salary increase for the department head to disburse amongst employees as they see fit.
Collier said he feels very strongly that county employees deserve an increase.
“And it’s my opinion, after looking at the budget so far, that we’re holding the line good enough to be able to do that,” Collier said.
The next budget committee meeting is scheduled for June 4 at 2 p.m. in the county executive’s office at the courthouse.