Metro Council passes 2022-23 budget

Local law enforcement and first responders were honored at the May Metro Council meeting held at Moore County High School. Pay scale increases at the Moore County Sheriff’s Department were the most controversial line item in the 2022-23 Metro Budget. (PHOTO CREDIT: Randa Prater)

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — The Metro Council passed the third and final reading of the 2022-23 Metro Budget on Monday night at a special session meeting held at the Lynchburg Legion Building off Highway 129. It existed as the lone agenda item.

The budget passed by a 10-4 margin with Shane Taylor, Bradley Dye, Houston Lindsey, John Taylor, Denning Harder, Gerald Burnett, Jimmy Hammond, Wayne Hawkins, Gordon Millsaps, and Meghan Bailey voting yes and Sunny Rae Moorehead, Arvis Bobo, Keith Moses, and Peggy Sue Blackburn voted no. Amy Cashion did not attend the meeting due to illness.

The budget process started on April 22 with a series of budget committee meetings. Members of the Metro Budget Committee, Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis, and department heads spent nearly 20 hours in meetings working together to balance the list of our communities needs against it’s revenue. Budget Committee Chair Amy Cashion along with members Gordon Millsaps, John Taylor, Gerald Burnett, and Bradley Dye spent countless hours going over each line item, seeking explanations, and then making adjustment.

Increases in fuel, utilities, state mandated salary increases, and increases in county employee benefits were the main source of line item increases. A pay scale proposal from Metro Sheriff Tyler Hatfield created the most controversy. On June 2, Metro Council member and mayoral candidate Keith Moses ran a full page ad in The Moore County News stating his opposition to giving the increases in a single budget year. Instead, Moses proposes splitting the increase between over the next “two or three fiscal years.” It’s a position several of the other no votes aligned with during the May, June, and final vote.

Several Moore County first responders appeared during the June 20 public hearing to speak on the behalf of the pay scale adjustment.

Deputy Douglas Carson, who’d just gotten off a 12 our shift patrolling Moore County, also stated that he understood the need to protect those on a fixed income.

“We’ve done the math and my grandmother, who lives on a fixes income, will pay exactly $1.16 more a month,” Deputy Carson told the crowd.

His statements were true. At the new $2.295 tax rate, a person with a $100,000 home would pay an estimated $10 extra dollars in property tax per year.

During the May meeting, the Metro Budget passed first reading by a 10-4 vote. Yes votes included Shane Taylor, John Taylor, Gerald Burnett, Bradley Dye, Gordon Millsaps, Amy Cashion, Jimmy Hammond, Houston Lindsey, Meghan Bailey, and Wayne Hawkins. No votes included Keith Moses, Sunny Rae Moorehead, Peggy Sue Blackburn, and Arvis Bobo. Denny Harder was absent from the meeting.

June’s regular meeting votes fell along the same lines as the previous month’s meeting with Keith Moses, Peggy Sue Blackburn, Sunny Rae Moorehead, and Arvis Bobo voting against the budget. The second reading passed by an 11-4 margin with Shane Taylor, John Taylor, Gerald Burnett, Bradley Dye, Gordon Millsaps, Amy Cashion, Jimmy Hammond, Houston Lindsey, Meghan Bailey, Denning Harder, and Wayne Hawkins voting yes.

The next Metro Council meeting will take place on July 18 at 6:30 p.m. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only locally-owned newspaper in Lynchburg and also the only woman-owned newspaper in Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}