Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

June 28, 2012

City accepts certified tax rate

CROSSVILLE — The Crossville City Council has voted to accept the state certified property tax rate of 53 cents and set a special-called session Friday morning to complete work on and approve the third and final reading of the new fiscal year's budget.

The council unanimously approved the state certified tax rate at a special-called meeting held Monday afternoon. There was some talk that the city might approve a property tax rate of 55 cents, the rate for the current year. That change would have raised approximately $80,000 additional revenue and been the equivalent of a $5 on a $100,000 house but support did not materialize.

According to discussion on the property tax situation, residential property owners should see a drop in their overall tax liability because of the drop in the appraised values of that type of property. Commercial property and raw land has increased in appraised value so the tax liability will be based on the value and the tax rate.

Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham said that while they have cut expenses in the budget, the day-to-day operations of the city remain out of balance in revenue versus expenses. The latest version of the budget does show a $1,585,376 surplus. City finance director explained that that surplus comes from the sale of bonds that allows the city to cover the costs of some of the city's capital projects and reduce the amount of debt service paid in the coming year.

The city received news very recently that their liability insurance and workers compensation costs would rise some $150,000 for the coming year and some of the capital improvement projects have been shifted into the new fiscal year.

With the operation of the city having had more expenses than revenue for the past several years, Mayor Graham said he felt the city needed a written plan for the long term budgeting of the city.

"A long term solution is needed," explained Graham. "The decrease in spending this year is a start, but there is more to do. We need to look at services like garbage pickup.

"The city needs to maintain some $7 to $8 million in our fund balance, approximately 6 months of operating expenses," added Graham. Crossville finance director Fred Houston confirmed that that is where the city's fund balance stands at the current time.

Councilman Boyd Wyatt asked the mayor to address the city's financial situation and that they were not going broke. Graham responded saying the city was in "very good shape."

Graham said that the city had done wonderful things in the city's recreation park and owes nothing on them but the mayor said he wants to prioritize "roads, water, sewer, police and fire" or the basic city services to be ready for the future.

Graham addressed the issue of the firework show cut for 2013 saying, "We made some pretty tough cuts." Graham said he had asked people in town about those cuts and he said that most responded saying that while they enjoyed the fireworks show but also understood the reason for the cuts.

Councilman Danny Wyatt agreed saying that people had told him, "If we don't have the money, we don't have the money."

Both men stressed that this year's fireworks show was going forward. The show will be held Wednesday evening July 4 and everyone is encouraged to attend.

In other action at the called meeting, the council approved a draft of a proposal for a second corporate hanger for MasterCorp similar to an existing hanger the firm is currently leasing.

Two ordinances were approved by council related to the Satsuma abutment project.

Council took no action on an item to move forward with the changes in payroll that will move the city from a weekly payroll to a biweekly system. Since the council plans to approve the budget before the end of June it was deemed unnecessary to approve the matter.

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