UPDATE: Hamilton County Commission passes 2020 budget in 8-1 vote
UPDATE: It took more than three hours of discussion and two amendment proposals until commissioners finally passed a balanced budget, with no tax increase for the citizen of Hamilton County.
The argument came from teacher pay raises and a couple commissioners were trying to find a solution so they could get teachers a 5% raise.
The clerk read two motions. One made by District 4 Commissioner Warren Mackey, "to amend the budget by 12.5 tax increase for the purpose of funding teacher raises.”
And the other by District 2 Commissioner Chip Baker.
"I would like to make a motion to amend the budget by $4 million dollars, not to exceed $4 million dollars,” said Baker.
This went on back and forth between commissioners for 3 hours.
"I said at the very beginning all of this is about a 5% increase for teachers,” said Mackey.
District 1 Commissioner Randy Fairbanks said he’s seen what happens when the commission tells the school board what do with their money and he didn’t want to venture down that path again.
"I learned my lesson on this situation 2 years ago, that we cannot tell the school board, here's you some money, but here's how you gotta spend it. That's not our job,” said Fairbanks.
District 6 Commissioner David Sharpe said they needed to find a way to work with the school board.
"I would like to think of this amendment this resolution as an olive branch as an olive branch almost,” said Sharpe.
District 7 Commissioner Sabrena Smedley said it’s not their job, and asked if the school board could go back and cut positions to pay for the raises.
“As the county attorney said numerous times, we don't have the authority to tell you guys how to spend money no matter how much we spend,” said Smedley.
Since commissioners can’t tell the school board how to spend their money, Commissioner Baker attempted to compromise with a $4 million increase. That $4 million dollars would have added to the $1,500 bonus teachers were getting which equated to roughly a 2.5% increase across the board.
In theory the increase and the bonus were supposed to add up to a 5% teacher pay increase.
He called up District 2 School Board member Kathy Lennon, to see if they could get a guarantee.
"Because of the teacher component, If you want us to fund $3, $6 million or whatever million do you really want us doing that?” said Baker.
"Yes, I would like to see them have a raise, I think that's a part of us working together as county commissioners and school board members,” said Lennon.
But the majority of the commissioners couldn’t see past that promise. Baker’s amendment failed 5-4.
"It was certainly a much smaller increase that was focused just on teachers, which is where rubber meets the road, that's where things happen in the schools system, I thought it was a great compromise but it didn't move forward, but we'll move on,” said Baker.
Both amendments were voted down. On the final vote commissioners voted 8-1 on the budget. $418 million dollars will go to schools, the total county budget is $794.1 million dollars.
Teachers will get that one time bonus of $1,500 dollars in November, and the school board will have to work within the $26 million they’re receiving in growth money.
UPDATE: The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners passed the Hamilton County School Board Budget 8-1 Wednesday, with no tax increase.
The school board will now have to work under that $26 million dollars in growth money. But they didn’t pass that budget without three hours of discussion before that.
Commissioner Warren Mackey motioned to increase the budget by $12.5 million dollars solely to give teachers a 5% pay raise. That was voted down.
Commissioner Chip Baker motioned to amend the budget to increase taxes by 4% or $4 million dollars in combination with the schools $1,500 dollar bonus that roughly equates to a 2.5% pay raise to get teachers to that 5% pay raise overall. That motion only would have been in place for this year.
Both of those were voted down before commission finally voted 8-1 to pass the school’s budget.
The school’s budget is $418 million, and the total county budget is $794.1 million.
PREVIOUS STORY: Hamilton County commissioners are set to vote on the new 2020 fiscal year budget Wednesday morning.