By Max Hrenda
County Mayor Leon Humphrey has vetoed the budget resolution approved Monday by the Carter County Commission.
The budget, which included an 18-cent increase in the county’s property tax rate, passed after commissioners spent more than five hours in discussion and voted down 13 proposals.
Though Humphrey cited several reasons for his Thursday afternoon veto, he said his main concern was that the commission’s adjustment of the Debt Service tax may have run contrary to state law.
“Probably the primary and most important reason is Tennessee Code Annotated 5-21-111,” Humphrey said. “Once that budget is drafted, proposed, and submitted to the commission, they can alter or revise it, except for provisions to Debt Service.”
Going into Monday’s meeting, the county’s Budget Committee had agreed on a tax rate that would have increased the contribution to the Debt Service Fund by 10 cents. After hours of discussion, debate, and compromise, however, commissioners agreed to raise the Debt Service tax by 3 cents.
“My interpretation is, once that budget was proposed that would come close to satisfying obligations, you cannot make any changes to that portion of the budget,” Humphrey said.
The veto may cause a unique dilemma for the county commission. According to the same TCA statute, the county must adopt a budget sometime in the month of July.
Now, with Humphrey’s veto, and the requirement that five days notice be given before any public meeting, time may be of the essence for commissioners to either override Humphrey’s veto, or agree on a new budget.