Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

July 4, 2012

City finalizes budget

Motions to restore fireworks funding, increase Chamber funding fail

CROSSVILLE — The Crossville City Council approved the third and final reading of the 2012-'13 fiscal year budget Friday morning. The budget shows a surplus of about $1.6 million; however, it was noted that was due to proceeds from bond refinancing and the true budget deficit is about $1 million.

Motions to return funding for the annual fireworks show in 2013 and to increase funding for the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce by $10,000 failed.

Mayor J.H. Graham III said, "The city is not broke. The city has plenty of reserves and the city has plenty of income coming in to pay our bills and support our debt structure. We're in good shape as far as other cities, and we have one of the lowest tax rates in the state of Tennessee...But we have a problem that we need to fix. I don't think we need to fix it by adding more expenses to the budget."

The budget does include several increases, including an increase of about $150,000 for the city's property, casualty and workman's compensation insurance and $120,000 for the Big South Fork Visitor's Center. There were also many cuts, Graham noted, including delaying construction and staffing of a new fire department and hiring a new detective for the Crossville Police Department. The street department cut its costs by choosing to use a one-inch layer of asphalt on paving projects where possible and many nonprofit organizations saw their donations from the city trimmed.

One of those agencies is the Chamber of Commerce, which also receives funding from the Cumberland County Commission.

Councilman Boyd Wyatt moved to increase the Chamber's funding by $10,000 to a total of $80,000 in the coming year.

"We need the Chamber to continue its good work in the community," Boyd Wyatt said. "I didn't realize we had cut them as much as we had."

His motion was supported by Councilman Earl Dean.

Councilman Danny Wyatt echoed Boyd Wyatt's comments regarding the vital service the Chamber provides businesses and in recruiting new business and industry to the community, but said it was not the time to be adding to the budget.

"We're funding this with borrowed dollars," Danny Wyatt said. "We're well known for doing budget amendments all through the year. This could be done after we give this man over here [City Manager Bruce Wyatt] to make some more cuts."

Graham noted the county commission provides about $50,000 in funding to the Chamber, yet benefits from all the hotel/motel tax collections in the county. The city does not receive a portion of those taxes.

"The expense of keeping up the Chamber has fallen disproportionately on the city of Crossville," Graham said. "I offered $50,000 in hopes the county would recognize they do receive those funds and they receive one half of the sales tax collected."

Boyd Wyatt said, "We need the Chamber."

The motion failed 2-3, with Boyd Wyatt and Councilman Earl Dean voting in favor and Danny Wyatt, Councilman George Marlow and Graham voting no. Marlow added he may support additional funding later in the year once additional savings may be realized.

Another cut was $30,000 for the annual fireworks display at Crossville Centennial Park. Boyd Wyatt moved to restore that funding, which Graham seconded for purpose of discussion.

"I've attended most all of the fireworks shows," Boyd Wyatt said. "A lot of people enjoy them."

Graham said he'd also had numerous calls on the issue, and many had offered suggestions for raising funds to continue the annual event which was voted Best City Attraction in the 2012 Crossville Chronicle Readers' Choice awards.

City Manager Bruce Wyatt said he'd had a call from a local businessman who indicated the business community might help to support continuing the show.

Danny Wyatt said he'd been contacted by local optometrists in support of the annual event because it has reduced the number of eye injuries sustained in at-home fireworks displays. However, he did not support reinstating the funding at this time.

"I'd like to put it back in," he said. "But I don't think we need to do it today. I think we need to give the manager a year and see where we stand."

Marlow said it was difficult to support spending $30,000 for a 30-minute fireworks show while not supporting $10,000 for the Chamber to provide services year-round.

"The city manager comes up with ideas for cuts and we sort of shoot them down," Marlow said.

He said the city could consider matching funds with a community group for fireworks, or other possibilities later in the year.

The motion failed with a 2-3 vote. Voting in favor were Boyd Wyatt and Dean. Voting against where Graham, Marlow and Danny Wyatt.

Danny Wyatt noted he wanted the manager to continue to look for savings opportunities in the coming year, including engineering and legal services fees, possibly selling property owned by the city and contracting or leasing operation of the concession stands at Centennial Park and the Duer Soccer Complex.

Graham then moved to approve the budget on the third and final reading, supported by Boyd Wyatt. The motion passed unanimously.

Also approved on third and final reading was a resolution setting the tax rate at 53 cents. Boyd Wyatt moved to approve the tax rate, supported by Graham, and it was unanimously approved.

A resolution approving donations to outside agencies included in the budget was also approved unanimously following a motion by Graham, supported by Danny Wyatt.

In other business, the council approved the second reading of ordinances de-annexing 4.12 acres on Northside Dr., annexing 6.79 acres on Orange Circle and annexing 5.75 acres on Short Rd.

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