Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

May 13, 2014

Budget, tax rate on city agenda

CROSSVILLE — The Crossville City Council will consider the first reading of the 2014-'15 budget and tax rate, in title only, and a 10-year capital improvement plan when it meets tonight at 6 p.m. as council members continue working on the financial future of the city.

While the regular agenda starts at 6 p.m., also on tonight's schedule is the audit committee meeting at 5:15 and a public hearing on the 10-year capital improvement plan for 2014 to 2023 that outlines all proposed city projects costing more than $25,000. The plan is required by the city charter and is designed to help the council plan future expenditures and the potential effect on tax rates.

The council members have been working on the 2014-'15 budget and, for planning purposes, have also received estimated budgets for the next two fiscal years, as well. The additional budget year numbers indicate the city budget will require either tax increases or some substantial cuts to future budgets to keep the budget numbers balanced.

The readings, in title only, of the budget and tax rate ordinances are on tonight's agenda and the budget will be completed before the third and final readings are held. Crossville's current tax rate is 53 cents and the council will determine if any change is necessary before the final reading takes place. No council meetings or work sessions on the budget have been held in several weeks now.

With the substantial reduction in scope of the downtown improvement project, the council has discovered the costs to close out the contracts with engineers and other service providers. The city owes $14,425.74 to engineers EG&G and an additional $9500 to Community Development Partners, which consulted on grants the city received to help pay for the project. The council will consider paying the closeout costs on the project but still hopes to be able to improve waterlines in the downtown area using funds from the state revolving fund grant.

The council will consider changes to the building codes used by the city. Currently, the city uses the 2006 International Building Code but the city must be within seven years of the latest code and the 2015 code will be issued later this year, requiring the city to act by adopting either the 2009 or 2012 codes. At last week's council work session, Jeff Kerley with the codes department explained both codes require additional cost for energy efficiency and the newer code would add an estimated $3,000 to $5,000 to the cost of all new houses.

If the city adopts the 2009, code it will be changing again within two years to adopt the 2012 codes, according to Kerley, but the extra time will allow adequate warning before the more difficult changes go into effect. The changes may also affect the city's contract to provide building inspection services to the county and will increase the costs of a building permit by $39. The county must be notified 90 days prior to such a change.

Other items on tonight's agenda include consideration of several grant applications, extension of water main on Ivey Rd. as well as refinancing of bonds for the Catoosa Water Department with a savings of some $400,000 in interest over the remaining term of the loan.

While it is not on tonight's agenda, the council heard a presentation from the Buxton Co. about services of consumer analytics to assist municipalities with recruiting and retaining retail and food chains using data the company maintains to match company needs to cities. The company consults with retail chains as well as cities including several in Tennessee.

Buxton's partnership with VISA captures data and can let the city know where visitors and purchasers come from when they spend locally. As the company puts together data on the community's habits and needs, that information can be shared with firms that provide those services to help the city recruit those businesses. According to the company representatives, the cost of the service is $50,000 a year but can increase a city's tax revenues.

Also stopping by at the work session was Rick Johnson of the Governor's Foundation for Health and Wellness. Johnson was encouraging the city to consider the institution of a wellness program for city employees which the city is considering for the upcoming budget year.

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