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Russell Robinson responds to Johnson County School Board article

Dear Editor,
This letter is in response to comments that were published in the July 19, 2017 article “Johnson County School Board takes issue with county on budget cut.”
As the Director of Accounts and Budgets I feel an obligation to inform the taxpayers of the rest of the story.
In a letter dated June 14, 2017 that was delivered to the Director of Schools I stated “Listed below are the School Department allocations of property tax and payment in lieu of tax for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Please remember these allocations are subject to change until approved by the Budget Committee and the County Commission. These allocations should be used in your budget preparation for the upcoming fiscal year.” This information was released to the school department only after the Budget Committee had been presented the estimated property tax allocations for all departments for the upcoming budget year.

On June 20, 2017 the County Mayor informed the committee and the school board of the possibility that one cent could possibly be moved from the school tax rate for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. One cent on the property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year generates $28,755.71 based on an estimated 92% collection rate. I was directed to gather the necessary documentation concerning maintenance of effort and report back to the committee on June 27, 2017. After much discussion the Budget Committee approved moving one cent from the general purpose school fund to the county general fund to aid in balancing the county general budget only after it was determined that maintenance of effort would not be an issue with the general purpose school fund budget.

Regarding the statement that “Mr. Robinson’s figures were no longer good” I take as a true misrepresentation of the facts. The numbers did not change, the allocation did. The Budget Committee made the recommendation to reallocate a portion of the tax rate to another department. I stand behind the integrity of the numbers as calculated based on the total property assessment for the upcoming fiscal year. I did not make this decision. It is not my decision to make. The Budget Committee made this decision. I am only carrying out instructions as directed by the committee. My letter to the Director of Schools only stated the estimated allocations and construed no guarantee of funding.

For the past twenty years I have had the privilege to serve the citizens of Johnson County. Sixteen years of loyal service was given to the school department and for the past four years I have served the 17,754 citizens of Johnson County. I have an obligation and responsibility to the citizens of this county to see that every tax dollar is used in a manner that is beneficial to the tax payer. I’m not only a public servant but I am also a citizen and taxpayer. I remind myself daily that we are spending the tax payers’ money. We are never to forget to spend it with the utmost care.

As public servants we are to be good and faithful stewards of every dollar this county receives regardless of whether it is local, state or federal tax dollars. It’s not our money. It’s the tax payers’ money. Most importantly we have an obligation and responsibility to use it as wisely and prudently as possible for all citizens.

Russell Robinson
Johnson County,
TN Government
Director of Accounts
and Budgets