Commissioners approve county budget 3 to 2
by Allison Haver
Before voting, however, Commissioner John Welch attempted to add a friendly amendment to the budget by moving $26,602 from the administrative contingency budget to go toward a 2 percent increase toward Watauga County teacher supplements.
"I realize what the Senate has done, they have taken away tenure for teachers," commissioners Chairman Nathan Miller said.
"In this budget, we are giving county employees a 2 percent raise," he said.
"Teachers are extremely valuable, but so are county employees," Miller said. "With two branches, two different houses and the governor talking about giving them (teachers) a raise more than what we are giving county employees, I can't support spending more money on supplements, which is a recurring expense."
Commissioner Billy Kennedy said that supplements keep good teachers in Watauga County.
"Giving up your retirement pay and something you have been working toward for 20 or 30 years is just wrong to me," Kennedy said.
Miller said he did not believe that teachers had to give up their retirement money with the new legislation.
"We have been blessed, even with our high cost of living, to have never had a problem keeping quality teachers," Miller said.
Commissioner Perry Yates said the main problems he saw were several county teachers having to use their own money to pay for school supplies.
"The hierarchy in education needs to take a look at where the money is going. It needs to go to the teachers and students in the classrooms," Yates said.
"It's pretty much without doubt that money spent on education is always returned," Kennedy said.
Welch's motion failed in a 3-to-2 vote.
Miller thanked Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque and his staff for doing an excellent job on the budget during "one of the hardest years" due to a revaluation.
For more information or to view the county budget, visit http://www.wataugacounty.org.