Rutherford County School Funding Challenges and the 2006 County Powers Relief Act

Apr 01, 2024 at 09:48 pm by WGNS News




RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN - Rutherford County Schools may face funding challenges for future construction of new schools, partly due to a legislative act that the county agreed to 3-years ago... Mayor Joe Carr advocates for new legislation that would provide the county with options in funding, as opposed to limits in funding.

Carr told WGNS that Rutherford County has limited tools in the toolbox to fund the cost of a growing school system. Under the 2006 County Powers Relief Act, which Rutherford County adopted in 2021, the county is prohibited from implementing impact fees or local real estate transfer taxes. According to the regulations governing counties under the County Powers Relief Act, Rutherford County is solely authorized to impose a "county school facilities tax" of up to $1 per square foot on new residential development. Presently, the county is charging the maximum allowable amount for new residential construction, which is the $1 per square foot rate.

Counties that are not under the '06 County Powers Relief Act and instead under a private act appear to have more freedom in implementing development fees or taxes. Illustrating this difference in funding options to offset the cost of school growth, Carr told WGNS that neighboring Wilson County generates $11 million more than Rutherford County through their development tax. Keep in mind that Wilson County has 33,000 fewer students than the Rutherford County Schools. The county mayor further highlighted... With a student population exceeding 52,000, Rutherford County Schools now stand as the fourth-largest district in the state.

Carr said a recently proposed bill would change the powers relief act while also changing how the county funds local schools, but the bill is concerning to him... The House version of the bill is HB 2426 and the Senate version of the bill is SB 2261. WGNS will continue to follow this story.





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