The group unanimously voted to keep the county’s property tax rate at 2.5189, along with the $141-million budget. The group approved a property tax increase of 35.17 cents more than the state certified rate of 2.1672 last year.
Last year’s budget ended with revenues exceeding expectations by about $2 million, according to Wilson County Finance director Aaron Maynard.
The fund balance June 30, 2018, the last day of the upcoming fiscal year, is projected to be about $8.2 million.
The general fund is also expected to grow by about $1.1 million compared to last year.
The group did not take any action regarding the potential new high school in Mt. Juliet, on property adjacent to W.A. Wright Elementary School, after the Wilson County Budget Committee passed on making the item a part of the budget last month.
Maynard said it would cost 12-18 cents on the tax rate to fund a new high school in Mt. Juliet, dependent upon how the debt payment is structured.
However, the group tasked Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto to lead the county’s efforts in establishing a solid funding mechanism for the high school. Hutto said future efforts would include a joint work session with Wilson County Schools representatives on the issue.
Supporters and opponents of the high school voiced their opinions during a public hearing that preceded the meeting.
“Last year when I spoke, I told you Mt. Juliet High School had 50 floating teachers. In just one short year, that number has increased to 75 floating teachers. To say our school is at capacity is an understatement. It seems to me that this fact is not believed by everyone,” Mt. Juliet High teacher Josh Marlowe said. “At this time, there is not a single class available throughout the school day. All classrooms are being used each period. What are we going to do next year?”
As of Aug. 10, Mt. Juliet High School had 2,206 students, according to school leaders. Wilson County Schools Deputy Director Mickey Hall said if the doors to the new high school opened tomorrow, it would have 1,507 students – all from the county’s northwest corner population.
“If appropriate action is not taken, especially for Mt. Juliet High School, the effectiveness of daily school schedules, educational programs and the safety of the students, as well as the teachers, could be in jeopardy,” Marlowe said.
Phil Jack, Mt. Juliet resident, said he owns property adjacent to the proposed site and said he opposed the potential high school.
Jack said he felt the $110 million estimation for the school construction is an underestimation, and said he felt several delays would occur during construction.
Jack also said he felt many Mt. Juliet residents would oppose the school if it made its way through the Mt. Juliet government.