Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

April 5, 2013

City eyes employee raise

By Heather Mullinix
Assistant editor

CROSSVILLE — The Crossville City Council is considering a 2 percent wage increase for city employees in the 2013-'14 fiscal year budget at a cost of $142,901 for the year.

That's the recommendation of City Manager Bruce Wyatt and Finance Director Fred Houston, along with expenditures for capital items for departments and outside agency support. That brings the city's proposed budget to a deficit of about $495,000. However, the city has reserve funds of close to $7.5 million.

The budget does not include funding for proposed capital projects for lighting New Lantana Rd., the downtown Crossville infrastructure improvement project, lights for the recreation park ball fields and a project for lighting at the Crossville Memorial Airport.

The budget recommendation includes three new police cruisers, at a cost of $135,000, to replace high-mileage vehicles; 32 laptops for officers at a cost of $60,800; 12 tactical response unit ballistic vests at a cost of $21,516; and a cell phone tracking system for detectives at a cost of $6,000. Not included in the recommendation were requests for two detective vehicles, fencing in the back lot of the new police station, and repavement and resealing of the police station parking lot and impound lot.

In the fire department, $24,000 was recommended for remodeling the Public Safety building as a fire hall. The plan is to use the city's maintenance department to do the work, and spread the project out over several years to avoid the need for architectural services. Also recommended were furnishings for the remodeled fire department building, at a cost of $20,000. Reconditioned jaws of life at $15,000 and a thermal imager at $7,000 were also recommended.

Not included in the recommendation was $30,000 for a support vehicle. Costs associated with a new fire station, including an Aerial 102 platform truck and equipment and a new pumper truck and equipment, and furnishings for the new fire department were not recommended.

The street department budget includes capital funds for reconditioning a single axel dump truck bed at $12,000 and a portable hot pressure washer at $6,000. A request for a steel wash building, estimated at $70,000, was not recommended this year, though the safety hazard of washing trucks off in winter on an icy concrete pad was noted.

The maintenance department has been recommended for a 3/4-ton 4-wheel-drive truck at $35,000 to replace an older truck. Houston recommended $5,500 for landscaping at the new city hall facility, though said if he was able to find the funds in the current budget, he would recommend starting that project in the spring.

Improvements to the cemetery were recommended, including a new mower and a 700-foot access road, though the cost of those items will not come from the city's general fund budget but from the Ledford Trust, which supports upkeep at the Crossville City Cemetery.

In the parks and recreation department, $7,000 was recommended for a lawnmower and bagger and $15,000 for a laser grade machine. Backstop netting for the Turner baseball complex was recommended at $8,000 and a storage building at the Duer Soccer Complex was recommended at $10,000.

Items not recommended include laser grading for Turner fields 1 and 5, redoing the sand surface at the volleyball and playground at a cost of $14,000, a pickup truck to replace a truck currently in use at $30,000 and $5,200 for a Bannerman aerator.

The department has also budgeted funds for a security guard to patrol Centennial Park. Councilman Pete Souza questioned if the city police department could take that responsibility.

Chief David Beaty said it would require overtime for an officer to be assigned just to the park, though officers on duty do make regular patrols of the area. He said he will study the possibility and report back to the council.

Last year, auxiliary officers were used to cover the rec park as needed, but the department has only one auxiliary officer at this time.

Also included in the budget is a 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums.

"What has that number got to be before we look at doing something different?" Mayor J.H. Graham III asked.

Bruce Wyatt said the city was exploring the possibility of self funding its health insurance benefit.

The council was set to meet again Thursday afternoon to discuss the water and sewer departments, funding of outside agencies and council budget proposals.