Today is Saturday, July 22, 2017

County looks for more budget cuts

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However, Maynard pointed out there is still about $800,000 worth of cuts to be made if the county is to avoid using that amount from its fund balance to cover expenditures next year.

According to Maynard, the Tourism Departments budget amounts to one-half of 1 percent of General Fund expenditures.

Maynard said more than half of the Tourism Departments budget is payroll and benefits with $122,603 spent on salaries and benefits for Tourism Director Ricky Rodriguez and one assistant.

Rodriguez said the Tourism Department, more commonly known as the Wilson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, positions the county as a destination for various meetings and events.

He said in the course of a year, the Bureau serves 20 to 30 groups that hold meetings, conventions or sporting events in Wilson County. He said business and leisure travelers also make up a large portion of Wilsons tourism impact.

The business and leisure travelers are a big part of our economy because of our proximity to Nashville, he said. Tourism is the fifth-largest industry in Wilson County with a $107 million impact.

Also in the Tourism budget are $18,650 for advertising and $9,000 for travel expenses. Maynard said the department uses a grant for advertising and noted that grant can only be used for that purpose even if the department is cut.

The only thing we can use that grant money for is advertising, Maynard said.

Rodriguez said the grant is something the Bureau applies for every year and is only available to Convention & Visitors Bureaus in the state. He said that grant amounts to $8,000 to $10,000 annually.

Rodriguez said he will attend the next meeting of the Budget Committee and will be able to make a case for keeping the bureau.

We are going to have the opportunity to present our case to the Budget Committee, he said.

District 17 Commissioner Gary Keith brought up the idea of local Chambers of Commerce fulfilling the duties of the Tourism Department and hoped the county could provide money to help the chambers.

I think we are going to have to rely on the local Chambers of Commerce to support the county in the area of tourism, Keith said. This will not be something new for the Chambers of Commerce.

In addition to the elimination of the Tourism Department, District 23 Commissioner and Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Ash said that committee would be making more cuts to balance the budget.

The people and commission said to cut more, so thats what were going to do, Ash said. Im meeting with Aaron (Maynard) later this week to discuss how much we can cut.

Ash said the committee did make a number of cuts when working on the 2012-2013 budget and said many citizens and commissioners didnt realize there have already been some cuts made.

However, he said following Monday nights meeting they would consider cutting some meat, indicating there was little fat to trim. He pointed to contributions the county makes to non-profits every year as a place where the county could look to cut back.

During Mondays meeting, District 19 Commissioner William Glover suggested cutting back on what he said was almost $300,000 in charitable donations by the county.

Ash said the committee might have to ask all departments for a reduction, which could include personnel cuts.

Depending on the amount we have to cut, we may have to do a percentage across the board and ask all departments to cut that amount, he said.

During Monday nights meeting, Maynard said if the commission approved no tax increase it would be nearly impossible to balance the budget without cutting from the Wilson County Sheriffs Department and Wilson County Emergency Management Agency.

Now, even with the tax increase, he said it would be difficult for the county to cut the necessary amount from its budget without scaling back the emergency services budgets.

Whether we can trim the remaining $800,000 without touching those departments remains to be seen, he said.

To see how the commission voted on the tax increase, read the story on Monday night's commission meeting by clicking here.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at

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