It looks like some Claiborne elected officials could have their collective heads on the chopping block, if a worst case scenario plays out with the State Comptroller Office.
County Mayor Jack Daniels requested a budget deadline extension from Sandra Thompson, who is the director of the Office of State and Local Finance. Thompson responded to the request with information that included the possibility that a housecleaning could be conducted if the budget is not adopted by 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30.
In his letter, dated Aug. 19, Daniels requests an extension due to the uncertainty of continued revenues from the housing of discretionary prisoners – revenues that total $1.772 million, according to his letter.
“This revenue issue will not be resolved until the Sheriff appears before the Tennessee Corrections Institute Board in Nashville, on Sept. 7, which determines if the jail in Claiborne County is certified or loses this certification. It is anticipated that if the certification is lost, that state and federal prisoners will be removed; thus causing a revenue shortfall,” reads the letter, in part.
In his letter, Daniels states that the county has managed to maintain certification due to its working relationship with the State Correctional Department and the Claiborne County Correctional Partnership Act.
“The most appropriate response to this loss of revenue is to increase property tax and reassign the property tax levy. Claiborne County is hopeful that this extension is approved so that the outcome of the prisoner revenue will be resolved prior to increasing taxes,” continues the letter.
According to the letter, all other funds in the county budget have been approved by the budget committee and have sufficient revenues and fund balances in place.
In her response letter, dated Aug. 30, Thompson states that her office has determined the likely loss to the county of nearly one-fifth of the general fund revenue and the timing of the Tennessee Control Board decision “constitutes an extraordinary circumstance.”
Thompson states in the letter that Claiborne County would be subject to certain repercussions if it does not meet the Sept. 30 deadline.
“The county, excluding the school system, will have no legal authority to spend money. Until the county adopts a budget and submits it to this Office for approval, pursuant to TCA &9-21-403, no requests to issue additional debt will be approved by OSLF, and elected officials could be subject to ouster from their elected office should they fail to perform their duty,” reads the letter, in part.
The Claiborne Progress is following this story closely, and will update it as information becomes available.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.