KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County commissioners got more words of caution Monday about watching the county budget.
Just a couple of weeks ago, county officials learned they ended the last fiscal year with millions more than expected.
County Mayor Tim Burchett had cautioned commissioners not to start new programs with recurring expenses using one-time dollars.
Commissioners started Monday's meeting with $3.6 million left from last year's surplus, not designated to pay for anything. By the end of the meeting, commission approved more than $1 million in funding for various programs.
Commission approved a resolution to establish a discretionary fund for each commissioner to spend on initiatives to help their neighborhoods and districts. With a 6-4 vote, commissioners approved $55,000 for each of the 11 commissioners.
Mayor Burchett cut discretionary funding entirely from last year's budget and didn't reinstate it in the current budget.
Commissioners approved a motion to designate $500,000 for a senior transportation program through a defined services contract process. The county will issue a request for information (RFI) to see who could provide the services at the lowest rate.
The Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee has an existing program to provide low cost or free transportation for citizens, especially the disabled or elderly.
The CAC says it makes 800 round trips every day, and has to turn down 20 a day due to lack of funding.
The organization said additional funding could provide rides for seniors who live outside the Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) grid and have limited access to transportation.
"Seniors who do not qualify for TennCare who live outside the KAT service area, and really have no way to get to the doctor and other essential errands," said Barbara Monty, CAC director of the Office on Aging.
The senior transportation program is allocated with funding for a one-time expense. The RFI process for the transportation program is expected to be complete in three weeks.