Other Counties Get Less Funding Than Expected

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Sevierville, Sevier County (WVLT) - Nineteen-million-dollars. We told you Tuesday that's how much more money Knox County could get to spend on education.

Now, this number $3.8 million, that's how much less Sevier County's getting than expected.

As Jim Freeman explains, that's a problem for many more counties and you could pay to fix it.

A property tax increase may be on the way in Sevier County. School leaders say that may be the only way to fix the funding gap.

"We're a little discouraged in the fact that in the state of Tennessee this was the year for education, but when we got our plate there wasn't very much on our plate,” says Karen King, Sevier County Schools Director of Finance.

Sevier County estimated it would get almost four-million state dollars for its schools. But it's getting less than a half-million.

"A catastrophic cut,” King says. “It is in essence a catastrophic cut for the Sevier County School system."

Knox County is getting a 15% boost. Sevier's increase is far less at 1.4 percent.

"Come the first of May, we began to hear there was a new formula that was coming about,” King says.

Sales tax and property tax are being used in that new BEP 2.0 formula.

"And if you only look at those two factors in Sevier County, you think you're looking at a very rich county. But it's not really true,” says King.

However, Governor Bredesen calls Sevier County very successful. "It's been very successful economically. It has a huge property tax base. It has a huge sales tax base as well."

Sevier County's sales tax generates $35 million a year for its schools.

"And therefore, in the scheme of things we do, we ask a Sevier County to put up a little larger share than we do a Campbell County or a Hawkins County,” Governor Bredesen says.

A proposed 20-cent property tax increase is on its way to the County Commission. If passed, Sevier Schools would get 15-cents of that, generating more than $4 million.

"So, I guess what I would ask Sevier Countians to do as I do, any of the wealthier counties in the state, is to be glad for the situation you're in and be willing to carry your share of the load,” the governor says.

We'll find out on July 23rd if the Sevier County Commission votes for the property tax hike.

The county's last property tax increase came back in 2005. Whatever the outcome, Sevier County's 14,000 students will be heading back to class August 15th.

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