Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

April 10, 2012

City to begin work on 2012 budget

Long-term financing options to be discussed tonight

CROSSVILLE — Members of the Crossville City Council will soon begin their budget deliberations for the 2012-'13 fiscal year, but they are anticipating some bad news from the county-wide property reappraisal that could affect the tax rate.

"For the first time in the lifetimes of anyone sitting here, our appraised property values are going to decrease," said City Manager Bruce Wyatt. "That will result in an increase in the tax rate to develop the equal amount of revenue that we've been developing at 55 cents."

The city has not yet received an equalized tax rate from the Cumberland County Property Assessor's office, or the amount of revenue generated by each penny on the tax rate. Property taxes are calculated by taking 25 percent of the appraised value of residential property and dividing it by 100. That is then multiplied by the tax rate to arrive at the property tax bill.

Bruce Wyatt and Finance Director Fred Houston have been working with administrators and managers of city departments to trim the city's budget and have developed it using the current property tax rate and conservative estimates on sales tax collections, estimating $6.9 million. The budget has no capital outlay projects except those needed to keep the police and fire departments up to date. He estimates about a $500,000 gap between operating expenses and operating income.

"Maybe the property owners would like to see a decrease in their property taxes and see us do something else to get ourselves in line," Councilman Boyd Wyatt said.

Mayor J.H. Graham noted the city paid $7.28 a month for each home for trash collection, for a yearly bill of more than $400,000.

Graham has also suggested the city consider refinancing some of its debt over longer terms to help increase cash flow and help rebuild the city's rainy day fund.

"I think it's very important you be given guidelines on how you're going to pay the bills on your new building," Graham told Bruce Wyatt, referencing the $1.6 million bid accepted earlier during a special-called meeting to renovate the old Regions Bank building for use as a new city hall. "I think you need to have a recommendation on the agenda on all of the financing you want to look at."

Bruce Wyatt will make a recommendation during the regular council meeting tonight at 6 p.m.

The council members will meet individually with the city manager and finance director over the next week to discuss the budget before the council meets together to develop the budget, determine other items to be included and decide if wage increases will be included. Graham asked to be given information on how a 1, 2 and 3 percent wage increase for city employees would affect he budget.

In other business tonight, the council will also hear an explanation for a $28,945 billing from the Cumberland County Finance Office for property assessments in 2009, 2010 and 2011. State law provides for municipalities to share in the cost of administering tangible personal property assessments. That bill was for $17,684.47 for the three years. Also, state law provides for a sharing of reappraisal costs by counties and cities. A per-parcel amount is figured for the city by dividing the total cost of reappraisal by the total number of parcels in Cumberland County. That number is then halved and then multiplied by the number of parcels within the city. That bill is $11,260.88 for the three years.

The city had budgeted that cost each year, but when it was not billed, the funds were not used.

Bruce Wyatt said there were funds available in the existing budget to pay the invoices, but Graham asked for an explanation of the billing, how the city's share of the costs were calculated and if the property was located inside the city limits be discussed at the regular monthly meeting Tuesday.

In other business, the council will consider a request to change 4th St. from a one-way street to a two-way street, discuss right-of-way for CoLinx and the third and final reading of a $350,000 budget amendment for the Northwest Connector road project.

In the consent agenda, the council will consider bids for snow removal equipment, a submersible pump, voice data cabling, water tank level monitors and a computer server; consider renewal of an operating agreement with Crossville Aero, LLC, for fixed-based operator services at Crossville Memorial Airport, consider contracts for engineering services for a security fence at the airport and for utility relocations on Hwy. 127 North; and temporary street closings for upcoming community events.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at 99 Municipal Ave. The council will meet as the audit committee at 5:30 p.m., as the solicitation board at 6:25 p.m. and as the beer board at 6:30 p.m.

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