Kingsport facing budget deficit

Kingsport facing budget deficit

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – A budget decision made months ago by Sullivan County commissioners will slash the budget for Kingsport City Schools.

That’s according to the city of Kingsport, and city officials say that decision could also result in cuts to city services.

Kingsport mayor John Clark says the county commission’s vote to fund their jail and settle a lawsuit with their sheriff has had a trickle down effect that impacts not only city schools, but will impact every person living in Kingsport.

"This was unexpected and now we have no choice but to react to it," Clark said.

Kingsport leaders now face a tough decision trying to come up with a way to make up for a $644,000 deficit in their budget. The mayor says it was caused when the Sullivan County commission voted last year to shift funding to the jail.

To make up for the shortfall, the Kingsport mayor said, "We can do that by one or two ways. One way is either to raise revenues or cut services or do a combination of the two. Either one is not good as far as we’re concerned."

It is something that he says will impact every Kingsport resident, business and industry, since cuts may have to be made to city services like fire, police or parks and recreation, or if the city decides to raise taxes.

It is a decision that the board will have to come up with in the next few months.

"We work well with the city of Kingsport," said Sullivan County mayor Richard Venable.

But mayor Venable says, the reduction in funding to Kingsport City Schools from the county also ties directly to the issuance of $140 million in bonds – $47 million of which he says Kingsport received.

"We don’t have a problem, we just have a problem of misunderstanding and maybe a different perspective on how this happened," Venable said.

It is something Venable says he hopes to solve sooner rather than later.

The city of Kingsport also says they have $1.1 million in capital improvement money that is also not coming from the county. In the next few months, they’ll also have to decide whether or not – and how – to fund those improvements dollars.

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