By Jim Young
The Crossville City Council approved the budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year with a roughly $283,000 deficit, avoiding a property tax increase and providing raises to city employees.
The council met in special session Tuesday, June 25, to complete the work on the budget before the new fiscal year started July 1.
The council did not accept the recommendations of interim city manager Jack Miller and Mayor J.H. Graham. The budget they recommended included a 6 cent tax increase and would have left the budget with a much smaller deficit of $43,165. Miller described that number as “the smallest deficit for a city budget in 13 years." A 4 percent pay increase for employees was included in the budget presented.
Councilman Pete Souza was pleased with the work on the budget. “The manager and the managers under him worked hard put a good budget together this year.”
Councilmen Danny Wyatt, George Marlow and Jesse Kerley all said they would rather see a three percent raise for employees and no tax increase leaving a $240,000 deficit for the upcoming budget, but Souza said he felt that after the previous years of either no raise of small amounts that employees should get a 4 percent raise.
Kerley went along with a 4 percent raise, but said he wanted the total increase divided equally among the employees so each employee would get the same amount of money. Kerley pointed out that such a distribution would mean a higher percentage to the lower paid employees and a lower percent to higher paid employees. Under this scenario, each city employee would get an annual raise of $1,359.
The motion to approve the 2013-14 budget and a property tax rate of 53 cents was approved unanimously by the council.
The council also approved the new asset management plan. Mayor Graham said he had reviewed the plan and he described it as a very good plan. ECE Engineers prepared the plan and will assist with the administration of the plan. The motion to approve the plan was approved unanimously by the council.
Mayor Graham also presented a possible purchase of land for future industrial growth but council members were mostly lukewarm on the purchase. The mayor said he wanted to make the council aware of the offer but was not sure the time was right for such a purchase.
The acreage connects to land the city already owns behind the wastewater treatment plant at the end of Maryetta Drive off of Highway 70-N. The property is 145.3 acres and is owned by the Swallows family. The acreage was offered to the city at $11,111 an acre for a total price of just over $1.6 million.