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County passes 2022-23 budget without tax rate increase

Erwin Record File Photo • Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely and the county commissioners worked for about three months on the budget passed at a called meeting on Monday, July 11.

By Ty Butler

The Unicoi County Commission held a special called meeting Monday, July 11, in the Unicoi County Courthouse to pass the county’s 2022-23 operating budget without raising the property tax rate for citizens.

“We started this budget process about two-and-a-half or three months ago, and we’re glad to get it finished up with a pretty much balanced budget and a slight surplus,” said Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely.

The mayor noted that the budget would include a 2% pay raise for county employees. In addition, he noted that the county will be paying more toward health insurance for all employees.

The $8,569,767 budget was subsequently passed on a 5-2 vote, with commissioners Matthew Rice and Brian Delp being absent from the meeting.

The board also came together on a 6-1 vote to halt any increases on the tax rate, which has been set at $2.35.

Evely announced that the Unicoi County Public Library was approved for a $34,000 grant that will be funded by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) fund.

“The library has five heating and cooling units and four of the five were down,” Evely said. “They were trying to get some maintenance to replace some of the units. The total estimated price was $68,000 and we approved half of it.”

Evely noted that the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce was also included in the budget after experiencing  troubles similar to the library’s.

“We approved the Chamber of Commerce about $4,400 at the last meeting,” Evely said.”Their heating and air was down, but we paid for half the cost.”

In addition, the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department will also be included in some ARP funds after Evely announced that certified personnel will have a $3,000 raise. He explained that the raise is an effort to get salaries comparable with those of surrounding agencies.

Other nonprofits are set to be included in a share of the ARP funds as well.

“All of the other nonprofits that received funds from the county last year will be receiving at least the same amount,” Evely said.