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When Franklin starting working on its 2017-18 budget, Town Manager Summer Woodard warned councilmembers that there was little wiggle room in the $8.6 million fiscal blueprint.

Each year, counties and municipalities must pass their upcoming year’s budget by July 1.

A recovering economy and low unemployment along with a 30 percent increase in tourist spending since 2011 has kept Haywood County in decent financial shape, but a few large expenses — married with the everyday needs of a 60,000-resident county — means a tax hike may be coming.

Karen Williams only had a handful of students in her beginner class when she first took the band director position for Swain County Schools 14 years ago, but today she has an average of 50 beginner students a year and the program continues to grow.

While many local school districts are struggling to make ends meet these days, Swain County Schools is facing a much steeper battle to qualify for state and federal funds the district feels its students deserve. 

“We’re struggling as most boards are trying to look at our financial situation and fund things we crucially need,” said Superintendent Sam Pattillo.

Haywood County commissioners have set a date for the required public hearing in advance of passing next year’s budget — an especially important one, considering County Manager Ira Dove’s prediction that the county could see itself forced to use over $2 million from the county’s fund balance to keep things in a state of equilibrium.

With an eye to improving student performance and employee retention, Jackson County Public Schools has upped its budget ask to the Jackson County Commissioners — by 25 percent over the allocation given the past seven years.

Every year before budget time, the Franklin Board of Aldermen likes to get together and figure out what the town’s priorities should be for the coming year.

Sylva is just starting budget planning for 2017-18, but this year’s process promises to be less arduous than last year’s, when revenue uncertainty and the need for a tax rate increase clouded the enterprise.

Canton officials and town staff met for four hours Feb. 16 to discuss achievements and goals, but will have to spend even more time discussing revenues and expenditures.

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