Carter County Commissioners approved a new fiscal year budget Monday, which includes raising the property tax rate twelve cents from 2.33 to 2.45 per $100 of assessed value.
"We took ten cents out of the general fund and used it to balance the debt service," Commissioner Buford Peters explained. "Then we added ten cents to the debt service to fund the new school."
The move allocates over 800 thousand dollars to begin funding the design process of the proposed new Unaka Middle School. "We can go into a design phase with our architect," Director of Schools Kevin Ward said. "We'll sit down with the architect look at the rough draft there may be some changes it may be the same thing but he will begin designing the project."
But many county residents in attendance had major concerns. "We need to build Carter County industrially," said resident Bill Peters. "Then we can increase our tax revenue and improve our county schools, roads and neighborhoods without burdening the residents."
"You cannot educate or expect a child to learn in school when he's worried about where his next meal is going to come from," said resident Robert Carroll. "Economic development should be ahead of a new school building."
"But schools work hand in hand with jobs," Buford Peters said. "The better education system you have in the county that will help bring in jobs."
The new middle school is expected to cost the county at least fifteen million dollars. A figure that the new incoming commission will have to deal with. In the meantime, this commission has a brand new budget. Many of them agree perhaps not the best budget but.
"I think it's the best we could do," Buford Peters said.