Madison County Commission passes tentative budget totaling over $234 million

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — The county commission passed a tentative budget Monday, totaling to $234,935,780.

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“We’re talking about a 10% reduction,” said budget chairman Doug Stephenson.

The state said they saw a reduction in sales tax by 7% last month, but Stephenson said they have a lot of moving parts right now.

“It could be… we’re erring on the conservative side,” Stephenson said.

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What failed to pass county commission: the sheriff’s budget.

“We asked for $25 million,” said Madison County Sheriff John Mehr. “That’s an increase for patrol and the jail.”

While other departments cut upwards of 10% from their budgets, the sheriff asked for $3 million more than the previous year. And that might not have been the final cost. Benefits were not included.

“Benefits are hard to identify sometimes,” Stephenson said. “In other words, they have to work with the finance department, and being able to produce those. I don’t know how they handled that, but it didn’t include any type of the benefit.”

The training center came up as well. Right now, it is marked as having no money coming in.

“It’s free money. It’s free training,” Mehr said.

“He’s not putting in any revenue for this upcoming year on the training center,” Stephenson said. “He’s not showing any revenue. His expenses are coming out of the Sheriff’s Dept.”

And that lack of expense tracking is frustrating county leaders.

“When is there going to be a separate budget for the training center so we can see?” asked Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris.

“We can go in and start working on a budget,” Mehr responded.

Harris then asked, “Why haven’t you? You’re asking for $25 million, $3 million more than you got last year and the year before. So what’s it going for if you’re saving us all this money?”

Mehr said, “We can go in and show you how much it would cost if we go somewhere else.”

Also at the meeting, the NAACP called for the removal of a confederate statue on the Madison County Courthouse lawn.

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