Sumner County discusses reallocating millions to pay for projects

Sumner County discusses reallocating millions to pay for projects (Image 1)

On Tuesday night, the Sumner County Budget Committee agreed to reallocate $7.25 million from the Hospital Reserves Fund to pay for various special projects.

Three million will bailout the county employee insurance trust, while another $3 million will go toward a 60,000 square foot Emergency Response Center, which includes a 911 communications center and a shelter that can withstand any natural disaster.

The remaining $1.25 will fund libraries in White House, Millersville and Westmoreland.

The Hospital Reserves Fund totaling just over $18 million is from the county's sale of Sumner Regional Medical Center in 2004.

The Hospital Reserve Fund must be used for capital projects, or one-time expenditures.

“They [the projects] will benefit the larger county as a whole,” Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt told Nashville's News 2. “I know it's a lot of money but I think we're using the money wisely.”

But some Sumner County parents feel that using the money wisely would have been giving it to the Board of Education earlier this fall, when an unsettled school budget delayed the start of the school year for more than a week.

“If it's ok to spend the money in November certainly we could have opened schools in August with the fully funded school budget and the fact that the County Commission refused to do that is frustrating,” Andy Spears, a member of the Strong Schools community group said.

However, many county leaders disagreed.

“You would only use monies for a re-occurring expense [such as the school system] that are generated through re-occurring revenue [such as a tax],” Holt said.

Parents also questioned why $3 million is being used to bailout the county insurance fund.

“It's really frustrating to say ‘Hey we're going to take $3 million to make up for our mistake,'” Spears said.

Holt added, “We've kicked the can as far down the road as we can and now is the time that we need to step up and resolve that issue.”

While many parents do support projects like the libraries, they're still calling for fully funded schools.

“We think that the schools system should be the top priority,” Spears said.

The Sumner County Budget Committee will present their plan to spend the $7.25 million at next week's County Commission meeting.

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