First reading of 2017-18 budget on tap for City Council

Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2017

After three budget workshops, the Elizabethton City Council will begin the process of looking to adopt their 2017-18 budget and property tax rates during Thursday’s regularly scheduled Council meeting.
While residents shouldn’t expect a property tax hike in this year’s budget, City Council did vote as a collective unit to have a few changes compared to last year’s budget.
Most notably was the decision by the City to propose cutting their operational budget for the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter from $127,000 to $100,000. Funding removed from the shelter was recommended to be moved into the Carter County Rescue Squad — an endeavor jointly funded by both Carter County and Elizabethton governments.
Before making the recommendation, the City originally had $50,000 in the budget for the Rescue Squad. The $27,000 along with other unallocated funding would go into the budget to come up with the $120,000 funding goal for the city.
The cut comes as a rejection of the city for a request by Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey to fund roughly $200,000 for the shelter’s projected budget for 2017-18.
Optimism surrounds the coming year as the city is projecting a net increase of $230,000 for revenue, is projecting the 2017-18 General Fund budget to be $18,768,310.
Council members were able to agree on a laundry list of capital projects that would be financed with $1,094,047 from the fund balance.
The largest capital projects recently made waves in the news system with the city set to pay $140,000 for the Street & Sanitation Department to handle renovating the canopies and sidewalks located in downtown Elizabethton.
The Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission voted by a 4-0 mark last week to recommend the demolish and complete removal of the canopies downtown. Commissioners made the recommendation after finding issues with Capital Improvements Plan set from 2017-22. While not expecting to pass, discussion is expected to resume during Thursday’s meeting.
Other high ticket items on the capital projects list include $125,000 for a dump truck and snow plow by Street and Sanitation to replace to older trucks while another $125,000 will be used for field light improvements at City Park — located near the Carter County Sheriff’s Department.
The Elizabethton Parks & Recreation Department was an important point of focus for the Council, which approved capital projects for Harmon Park shelter and bathrooms, Covered Bridge Park bathrooms, City Park playground equipment, tennis court improvements and Covered Bridge Park lighting.
City Council members will also look at either approving a $500 bonus and one percent increase or $1,000 increase across the board for full-time employees.
In other business, the City Council will look at approving various budget amendments for 2016-17, a contract with the First Tennessee Development District and look at OK’ing different contracts for services pertaining to the Elizabethton Twins.

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