Knox Co. Commissioners approve budget without any amendments

Knox Co. Commissioners approve budget without any amendments

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KNOXVILELE (WATE)— Knox County Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve the county's $734.5 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year without making any changes.

The unanimous vote was far-less contentious than the previous year.

Last year, the commissioners, the mayor, and some community leaders clashed over funding for the school system.

This year's budget includes a modest increase for schools, a raise for county workers, and more money for the Knoxville Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad. All without a tax increase.

"We did a good job this year of educating the commissioners from the start, and that helped smooth the road out for us," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.

There are a couple of items that will be funded in the next month.

Finance Director Chris Caldwell said the library system had money from previous projects that went under budget.

The administration agreed to put the money toward extra computers, something Burchett didn't initially fund in his budget proposal.

The County Finance Department also amended the Knoxville Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad's contract to provide an additional $100,000 in June for the squad to purchase a new rescue crash truck.

John Whited, Deputy Chief for the rescue squad, made his case in front of his commissioners last week for the need for more funding.

The squad will receive $144,000 annually from the county, $44,000 from the city, and $106,000 from United Way.

In other business, commissioners approved an ordinance that would permit retiring county employees as much as $10,000 for unused accumulated sick leave.

Supporters say the measure will increase productivity and reward long-tenured workers.

Under the proposal, sponsored by Mayor Burchett and Knox County Commissioner Amy Broyles, employees who work 40 hours per week and who give a 60 day written notice of their retirement date can receive $100 per eight hours of accumulated sick leave up to a $10,000 maximum.

Commissioner Richard Briggs was the only "no" vote.

Briggs remarked that employees who use sick days without being sick are "defrauding taxpayers."  

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