Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

June 13, 2014

City OKs budget, tax rate

CROSSVILLE — The Crossville City Council has approved the budget and tax rate for the 2014-'15 fiscal year, starting July 1, with one councilman voting against the budget because no raise was provided to city employees.

A public hearing on the budget held before the council meeting had no public comments, though council members discussed the budget. Councilman George Marlow thanked City Manager David Rutherford for all his work on the budget and for maintaining the tax rate. Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III stated the city's fund balance is healthy, with six to seven months of city expenses in reserve.

Councilman Pete Souza wanted to address that there was no provision for any city employee raises. Souza said that the council would praise the employees for quick repairs to roads washed out or fighting fires, but he felt a 3.5 percent raise would not really keep employees even with the cost of living increases.

Rutherford addressed Souza's comments and said he already was proposing an increase of 3.75 percent increase in payroll funding for the next fiscal year. That would give him time to complete a salary study and review current salaries for discrepancies. Most of the increase would be used for across the board raises and the rest would be to correct discrepancies in the pay of some city employees.

Councilman Jesse Kerley said he agreed something needed to be done for the employees and he wanted to see either a raise or starting the wellness program that created opportunities for employees to gain some additional money, but neither is in the current budget.

When the budget came up during the regular meeting, Rutherford outlined the general fund budget with $15, 953,030 in revenue and $16,316,468 in expenses, leaving a balance of $363,438 to be spent out of the estimated $10 million fund balance.

Graham said he wanted to amend the recommendation of Rutherford and Finance Director Fred Houston and pull $600,000 out of the revenue side, as it was borrowed money, and use an additional $600,000 from the fund balance so as not to borrow money for current expenses. The amount in question is for road paving planned for the next fiscal year.

Graham continued that he felt the city would be more than adequately funded to maintain the 200 days of surplus the city told bond holders it would maintain.

Graham's proposed change would increase the amount used from fund balance in the coming fiscal year to $963,000.

Councilman Danny Wyatt commented, “It looks good, considering what we came out of.”

Graham moved to approve the third reading of the budget ordinance with the change he outlined and the motion was supported by Wyatt.

Souza said, “I'd like to commend everybody that has worked on this budget. I think it is a fine budget. I will not vote for the budget without a pay raise for the employees, however.”

A roll call vote was taken and Souza voted against the motion while the remaining four council members voted in favor and the motion passed.

A motion on approving third reading the 53 cent unchanged tax rate ordinance was made by Wyatt and seconded by Souza. The tax rate approval passed unanimously.

Also approved unanimously was the list of allocations for outside agencies totaling $365,834. The total includes funding for the Chamber of Commerce at $86,000, the county animal shelter at $70,000, $30,000 funding for the Cumberland County Playhouse, $42,500 for the new visitor's center, $27,500 for the Fair Park Sr. Center and $25,000 for the Emergency Management Agency. Additional smaller amounts are spread over a variety of non-profit organizations. Funding for the local non-profits is threatened in upcoming city budgets based on discussions of future budget year recommendations by Rutherford.

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