Council approves purchase of Bonnie Kate Theatre, passes budget on first reading with amendments

Published 8:52 am Friday, June 10, 2016


File Photo The Bonnie Kate Theatre's purchase by the City of Elizabethton was made official during Thursday's City Council meeting.

File Photo
The Bonnie Kate Theatre’s purchase by the City of Elizabethton was made official during Thursday’s City Council meeting.

Work will soon be underway for the Bonnie Kate Theatre.
Elizabethton City Council members unanimously passed the resolution to allow the city to purchase the structure for $111,700 – money provided by the East Tennessee Foundation (ETF).
According to City Manager Jerome Kitchens, the agreement won’t be closed for a few days and the presentation of the check to the city by the ETF will be held in the near future once city and group officials find a time to meet.
Kitchens added that the ETF will look at creating a business plan once restoration is completed, along with a plan to make sure the Bonnie Kate will be able to break even financially.
When asked about another board being put in place for executive decisions for the Bonnie Kate Theatre by councilman Richard Tester, Kitchens explained that a five-member board would be created to address the issues of the business plans, restoration of the building.
Thursday’s approval allows the city to own the building with ETF providing the work with restoration and fundraising to get operational within three years.
The council will look into purchasing the parking lot for the facility after the passage of the 2017 fiscal year budget.
While budget talks went relatively smooth, a handful of amendments were put in place by council members.
To continue an item passed last year, city council members unanimously approved a motion by Tester to approve a $500 bonus to full time city employees and $250 for part time in the upcoming budget. Along with carrying over last year’s bonuses, Tester added that a one percent raise across the board be made possible. The councilman added that while the raise was deserving for the department heads for the city due to their work in different areas.
“Our revenues are good,” Tester said. “I propose we do have the bonuses and a one percent raise across the board.”
The city currently has approximately $71,000 of unallocated fundings, Kitchens said. The council also approved a $70,000 increase for the Carter County Rescue Squad, moving their line item from $50,000 to $120,000 – the same as the previous year.
“I can work with the budget for the rescue squad and bonuses,” Kitchens said. “But we’re going to have to find another way of finding $70,000 to one percent raise.”
When asked about what the council would do if they could not find a way to produce $70,000 for the raise by the second reading, Mayor Curt Alexander said the amendment would not pass.
The resolution of approving a property lease agreement with the Elizabethon City Schools for the old hospital’s use was tabled during the meeting, with different ideas coming up in discussion for the usage of the area.
The former Carter County Memorial Hospital formerly was on the property, which is adjacent to Elizabethton High School on Jason Witten Way. In the resolution that was presented, the agreement would last from July 1 until June 30, 2017. Councilman Robert Cable first present an idea of changing the agreement from one year to six months, but discussion furthered once the idea of selling was brought to the council.
“It was last appraised at $1 million,” Kitchens said.
After learning that councilman Sam Shipley had two contractors express interest in the property, Alexander motioned for the resolution to be table until the next meeting.
The city’s school system budget was unanimously approved during the evening.

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