At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.

Jackson County budget passes without tax cut

Following a June 23 public hearing, Jackson County Commissioners voted to pass the proposed 2020-21 budget without any of the cuts suggested by Commissioner Ron Mau. 

Mau first made a motion to pass the budget with the amendments he had previously proposed during a June 11 work session, which included reducing the property tax rate by 10 percent, increasing health insurance and retirement benefits, funding for all nonprofits that made requests, a $50,000 line item for the Special Library Project (for whatever the citizens of the county may choose to do with the Confederate statue in front of the library), a 1.4 percent increase in local teacher supplements, freezing salaries of county employees earning over two times the average county employee compensation and cutting the commissioners’ budget by $30,000.

“Has anybody in here ever built a budget during a pandemic? Things have changed. We’ve got to think different. I’m trying to help more people by giving everybody a raise by cutting taxes, trying to help more people by funding the non-profits,” Mau asked the board just before the vote was taken. 

His motion got a second from Commissioner Mickey Luker, but Commissioners Gayle Woody, Boyce Deitz and Chairman Brian McMahan voting against it. 

McMahan then made a motion to pass the budget as it was presented to the board. 

Mau in turn offered a sole amendment that all nonprofit requests be funded. The amendment was denied again in a 3-2 vote. 

Mcmahan again made a motion to pass the budget as it was presented to the board. 

“I would just like to say that because we’re in a situation where we have unprecedented issues that we don’t know what we’re gonna face in the near future, I feel that our budget is a really conservative and sound budget and that we can at any time amend it to address specific needs that will come up, because our number one concern is the health and safety of our citizens of Jackson County,” said Woody. “I know that these are very serious times. Some of the things that commissioner Mau recommended have some merit, but I do not feel that this is the time.”

Mau responded saying that most years Jackson County does not spend the full amount of the proposed budget, that this year, they would probably spend about 90 percent of the budget. 

“So why can’t we get our revenues more in line with our expenses, like almost every organization does?” Mau asked. 

“Because we do not know what our revenues are going to be going forward,” Woody responded. 

Following further discussion, McMahan again made a motion to pass the budget as proposed, without any amendments. The budget passed with McMahan, Woody and Deitz voting in favor, and Mau and Luker voting against. 

The approved budget for fiscal year 2020-21 is $66.5 million, $5.5 million more than the previous year. (The proposed 2020-21 budget includes a 1.34 percent decrease from the 2019-20 amended budget.)

Receive our FREE Friday Xtra newsletter

Go to top