It’s a safe assumption that state Sen. Tim Burchett will be the next Knox County mayor, having won his primary with 85 percent of the vote. But he will continue to campaign until the August general election.
In the meantime, Knox County Commission will be passing a budget before July 1, prepared by current County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. So when Burchett comes into office in September he will have to deal with a budget that relies on money from the “rainy day fund” and borrowed money. Starting over with a new budget at that point would be unprecedented and difficult to accomplish by an administration still learning its way around the City County Building.
Inquiring minds want to know: Will Burchett get involved in the current budget process? Will he ask for budget documents?
If Burchett requests financial information now and tries to influence County Commission in the preparation and passage of the coming budget he will seem presumptuous and arrogant—assuming his election before dispatching his Democratic and independent opponents. But Burchett, with his huge vote, would seem to have some room to take a risk. Budget cuts Burchett has proposed during his campaign will be more difficult to implement well into the budget year.
The budget will also be approved by a County Commission with almost half its members leaving three months into the budget year—no longer responsible for making it work.