Tennessee counties have been spending more than they take in, according to a report released this week by the state comptroller’s office.
The report shows Tennessee counties were nearly half a billion dollars in the red for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011. The state’s counties brought in approximately $11.65 billion that fiscal year, according to the report, but spent about $12.14 billion during the period.
“County governments have seen sluggish growth in revenues over the last five years, as expenditures have exceeded revenues in each year over this time period,” the report reads. “The slow growth includes years in which counties received federal money from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This trend indicates that either debt was increasing during the same time period, or fund balances were decreasing, or both.”
The comptroller also reports that “many county governments still are not centralized and do not have financial management staff prepared to handle the complicated financial issues facing county governments.”
The report emphasizes the link between the fiscal health of county governments and that of the state at large.
“As credit rating agencies are increasingly linking the health of county government finances to the financial condition of the state, it is essential for state government to protect its own health by assisting these local governments,” the report state.
The report can be viewed here.