Mayor Jim Coppinger vetoed the budget amended by the Hamilton County Commission during a news conference Monday. (Photo: Staff)

Mayor Jim Coppinger has vetoed the budget passed by the Hamilton County Commission.

He notified commissioners of his decision Monday morning and formally vetoed their budget resolution in an afternoon news conference. From the steps of the County Courthouse, Coppinger criticized the amendment by six commissioners to restore discretionary spending accounts from the county’s reserve fund.

“I firmly believe it is fiscally irresponsible to withdraw almost a million dollars in funds from the county’s rainy day fund to be used for discretionary spending by each commissioner,” he said in a prepared statement.

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The budget he prepared with his finance staff was a difficult spending plan to prepare, he said. Millions of dollars in spending requests for education and public safety were rejected to present a balanced budget without raising the property tax rate, he said.

Coppinger decided to eliminate $900,000 from the commissioners’ discretionary accounts because there was not enough revenue. He and his staff never considered that commissioners would dip into the county’s reserve fund, the mayor said.

The reserve fund is a type of savings account used by county government for emergency and one-time expenditures. Hamilton County used more than $26 million from the fund last year to pay for infrastructure upgrades related to Volkswagen’s expansion at Enterprise South.

A vote of five commissioners is all that’s needed to override the mayor’s veto. The vote could come as early as this week.

Commissioners Chester Bankston, Tim Boyd, Sabrena Turner-Smedley, Randy Fairbanks and Warren Mackey backed the amendment to restore discretionary funds.

Chairman Jim Fields, who also supported the amendment, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The last time a county executive vetoed a commission resolution was Jan. 13, 2000, clerk records show.

Updated @ 2:05 p.m. on 6/22/15.

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