Marathon meeting means no new taxes in Knox County

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It took nearly a day, but Knox County commissioners now have an approved budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Even though the spending plan is approved, there's still plenty of work to be done regarding the budget.

In the end, Wednesday’s marathon budget session may be best remembered for what did not happened, rather than for what did.

Needing to cut more than a million and a half dollars to balance the spending plan, ommissioners only managed to trim about $300,000, and with a budget of more then $640 million, the nickel and dime cuts seemed to anger many commissioners, including Scott Moore, who lost election as Knox County Clerk Republican nominee a few months ago.

“And we've sat here all day and cut 76-hundred dollars here, $50,000 there. The people at home in the morning are going to be so mad they're probably gonna take it out on some of the people running for this commission like they took it out on me a few months ago.”

In a last ditch effort to bridge the spending gap, Craig Leuthold asked for an across the board ten cent property tax increase. That's a move that struck a nerve with others commission members whose previous suggestions would have also raised taxes, but done so while repealing the Knox County wheel tax.

Commissioner Paul Pinkston said, “I can not vote for any kind of tax increase without cuts, and I made that perfectly clear. My tax increases including repealing the wheel tax, and there's no way I can support a tax increase.”

After more than eleven hours, commissioners finally passed the budget, which is still in need of a million and a half dollars worth of cuts.

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale calls it an "outstanding budget."

Mike Ragsdale, Knox County Mayor says, “What we'll do is continue to look at every budget, as people leave we won't fill positions. On the other hand, I think this is a time to say that even though we are in tough economic times, Knox County is going to continue to go forward with schools, job creations, and we're gonna do it without a tax increase."

No tax increase, but still a million and a half dollars worth of slicing and dicing left to do as the fiscal year wears on.

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