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‘Tough times ahead’ a reason cited for voting down schools’ request

By Damon Lawrence

Commissioners unanimously agreed Monday night that the county’s property tax rate should remain the same.
The resolution to keep the tax rate at $2.18 per $100 valuation for the 2013-14 fiscal year passed 13-0.


“We’ve got some tough times ahead of us,” Commissioner Stanley Moore said. “That’s the reason I couldn’t vote for another tax increase.”
Two commissioners – Bobby Collier and Steve Kelley – did not attend the meeting.
The Roane County Board of Education had asked for a 14-cent increase in the property tax rate to make up a $1.582 million shortfall.
“I’ve had people call me that hadn’t called me in 19 years about the property tax increase who did not want it,” Commissioner Jerry Goddard said.
The resolution setting the tax rate passed without any discussion.
“I think the fact that it was a unanimous vote speaks for the commission,” Commissioner Ron Berry said.
In addition to setting the tax levy, commissioners also unanimously approved the 2013-14 county budget, which sets appropriations for different departments and funds, including the general purpose school fund.
The commission room has a note on the door that says “Maximum Occupancy 63.”
The room was so full at Monday’s meeting that Sheriff Jack Stockton asked some people to step out in the hallway for safety reasons.
Speaking for the school board and quoting from the Book of Matthew, school board member Wade McCullough asked the commission to defer voting on the budget Monday night “to allow both bodies to have time to resolve the issues at hand.”
School officials expressed disappointment after the meeting that the vote wasn’t delayed.
“I was hoping we could kind of maybe work something out, but it didn’t turn out that way,” school board member Vic King said.
“I really thought we would get a delay,” Director of Schools Gary Aytes said. “I thought they’d want to work with us. I really did.”
Without the funding, Aytes said the school board will make cuts.
“I’ve got a whole list,” he said. “Textbooks, coaching supplements, all athletics and band, SROs (school resource officers),” he said.
“If we cut everything we have besides classroom teachers, we still can’t get to $1.5 million.”
Aytes had the following response when asked if Roane County Schools will be playing for the upcoming fall sports season:
“That will be up to the board next week. My guess is it will depend on whether coaches are willing to coach for free.”
The board has yet to vote on any cuts.
King, who coached football for many years at Roane County High School, didn’t speculate on what might get the ax.
“I really don’t know at this juncture,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll have to cut some stuff and we’ll just try to make it as painless as possible, I hope.”
Aytes said the school board will have a work session on July 15 and meet in regular session on July 18.
“After Monday night (July 15), I might know a little more,” King said, about the potential cuts.