City budget up for final reading tonight

Published 9:09 am Thursday, June 11, 2015

The final reading and public hearing for the 2015-2016 budget will be held during the Elizabethton City Council meeting tonight.

The proposed budget would bring a lower property tax rate but also include water rate increases. Council had discussed reducing the rate by 2 cents, going from $1.82 per $100 of assessed value this year to $1.80 next year. The budget would also increase water rates by 9.6 percent.

Council voted on the first reading of the new budget during last month’s meeting on May 14.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Among the changes the council made during the first reading was the lowering of the property tax rate by 2 cents and the lowering of the water rate increase from 14 percent to 9.6 percent.

Council also changed the proposed 1 percent pay raise for city employees to a $500 one-time bonus. Council believed the one-time bonus would have a larger impact, especially those who were paid at lower rates.   

Another change was made to move $100,000 from the General Fund to hold in reserve as a possible contribution to the Elizabethton/Carter County Emergency and Rescue Squad. Council agreed to wait and see what the Carter County Commission did in regards to funding the agency before any additional money was given by the city.

The city’s original allocation to the rescue squad is $20,000. The commission’s budget committee will recommend the county give the rescue squad the same amount, $170,000, that the county gave last year.

The rescue squad had requested an additional $300,000 for operational costs because of the increasing number of bills that are left unpaid by insurance companies and patients.

The city anticipates the total tax revenue will increase from $9.9 million to $10.4 million this year. The total available funds for the city next year comes in at around $21.3 million.

Also on the agenda is the first reading of the city school budget. The Elizabethton Board of Education approved the budget during its May 21 meeting

Council will also be voting on ordinances to set water and sewer rates through June 30, 2021. The water ordinance would set the minimum rate for residents inside the city who use 1,000 gallons or less at $17.45 per month in 2015-16. The minimum rate for customers outside the city limits would be $24.34. Those minimum rates would rise to $18.95 and $25.84 in 2016-17. The minimum sewer rate inside the city would be $14.66, and $18.77 outside the city limits, for 2015-16. That would increase in 2016-17 to $15.66 inside the city and $19.77 for customers outside the city limits.

Council will also be voting on several upcoming community events, including plans to close East Elk Avenue between Riverside Drive to Main Street on the Fourth of July in order to conduct Independence Day celebrations in the Covered Bridge Park; the opening ceremony for the new Elizabethton High School stadium on Sept. 4 at 6 p.m.; the EHS homecoming parade on Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. and the Milligan College homecoming parade on Oct. 24 at 2 p.m..