By Heather Mullinix
Crossville City Councilman Pete Souza has presented a plan for staggered wage increases for city employees, broadcasting city council meetings and providing assistance to the county's Veterans Service Office. He has also outlined places he feels the city can save by trimming the budget.
In an email to city council members, copied to local media, Souza recommended city employees making below $40,000 a year receive a 4 percent pay raise. Those making above $40,000 a year would receive a 2 percent raise.
"We have city employees who are in the poverty level, and that is a disgrace," Souza wrote.
He's also proposing the city provide $10,000 to Cumberland County to support staffing in the Veterans Service Office of the county.
"Justification, because it's the right thing to do," Souza wrote. "There will not be another chance for some of our veterans."
Souza would also like the city to fund live coverage of all council meetings, at an estimated cost of $7,000.
"Justification, it is important to the transparency of government to have multiple media coverage," Souza said.
Those budget additions come to about $214,000, Souza said, with the bulk of that cost for wage increases.
In budget deletions, Souza proposes elimination and sale of 10 percent of wheeled vehicles from each department that are one ton and under.
"I firmly believe the city has went from convenience to what is required," Souza wrote. "No entity will conserve and maximize resources while those resources are readily available."
He also wants to revisit proposed vehicle purchases in several departments, including the maintenance and police departments. He proposes cutting the police department request for three patrol vehicles to two and transferring a vehicle from the fire department to the police department.
"Chief Turner's vehicles is inappropriate for public safety and fire department use," he wrote.
He proposes a 20 percent reduction in fuel in all departments, with 5 percent retained as a reserve, and for allocations to be monitored monthly.
Other cuts include $15,600 for cleaning at the fire department, stating house firemen should be cleaning, with savings used to supplement their wages for the additional responsibility. He also proposes reducing the budget for the annual air show by $4,000 and a 10 percent cut in golf tournament sponsorships.
"Fellas, our constituents do not live in the resort area, they live in the city and they are not happy we are carrying the whole package here," Souza wrote. He added data regarding increased business and tax revenue was not concrete and "no one can provide data that can not be picked apart on either side."
He also wishes to cut the sign budget for the city and half the cost of advertisements and promotions. "We don't need all of this. We have our own ministry of propaganda," Souza wrote, adding he will address this topic at a future meeting.
The council has not set its next work session to discuss the budget, but had proposed meeting later in April.