Tenn. Counties Struggle to Make Ends Meet
By Mike Osborne
Nashville, TN – A statewide survey suggests Tennessee counties are struggling to make ends meet.
The Association of County Mayors of Tennessee recently distributed a survey asking for a reading on local finances. About half of Tennessee's 95 counties responded and the numbers are not encouraging.
Fifty-eight percent of the responding counties say they are tapping reserve funds to balance the current year's budget. A further 43 percent say they'll likely have to dip into rain-day funds next year as well.
Tennessee counties are increasingly turning to new taxes to shore up their budgets. Twenty-eight percent of the counties responding to the survey say they've already raised taxes. Thirty-six percent say they expect to raise taxes in the coming year.
Fred Congdon, Executive Director of the Tennessee Association of County Mayors, said he conducted the survey to make sure county officials understood the scope of the problem.
"They're all going to have to tighten their belts and cut spending. Hopefully, the economy will turn around soon and things will be better," Congdon said.
In an email to county executives accompanying the survey results, Congdon encouraged local officials to share the numbers with their state representatives to forestall any effort by Tennessee to shift more costs to the counties in the upcoming legislative session.