Fiscal year budget to go through second reading Thursday

Published 3:44 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Next fiscal year’s budget for the City of Elizabethton could be adopted as soon as next month if passed this week.
City Council members will convene inside Council Chambers Thursday evening to go through the second and final reading — with a public hearing — of the proposed budget for 2017-18.
The first reading of the budget was unanimously accepted by City Council during the May meeting, which included approval of a one-time three-cent tax increase, bumping the property tax rate up from $1.79 to $1.82, to fund additional bonuses for City of Elizabethton employees.
The issue of employee payment was brought up during the previous budget workshops, where Council made the recommendation for City Manager Jerome Kitchens to come up with a classification plan for city employees, which would be assisted by the City’s Personnel Advisory Board. The recommendation came after Water, Electric and Streets and Sanitation stated they each were having trouble maintaining well-trained and experienced workers due to competitive pay from other entities, including in-house.
As the new classification plan gets developed, Council discussed and approved the measure of funding an additional $500 bonus for full-time employees — moving it up to $1,000 after last year’s approval of $500. Permanent part-time employees would also see an additional $250 bonus, making their total bonus $500.
With the change, the property rate for the City was moved up by three cents, but was described as a “one off” during the meeting as the classification plans are developed.
Councilman Jeff Treadway made the motion to amend the FY 17-18 budget to include the increase. The act was seconded by Councilman Richard Tester.
Another change to the budget included the passed amendment of bumping the City’s appropriation for the Carter County Rescue Squad from $50,000 to $120,000. Helping fund the increase, Council voted to decrease the appropriation to the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter from $127,530 to $100,000.
The decrease was made due to multiple discussions from Council members about the apprehension of funding a significantly higher operational cost — approximately $400,000 — and being asked to fund half of the cost due to an agreement in place by the City and County. While the County says the City is still on the hook to fund half, the City contends their agreement was nullified to its expiration date with Council voting to renegotiate the contract.
Council alluded that the 50-50 split puts a larger load on city residents, who also have to pay the share of the county’s funding. According to information provided by the city, a city resident pays five times as much as a county resident would with a 50-50 split ($17.62 compared to $3.52).
At the request of Kitchens, Thursday’s meeting will also see the Council propose an agreement for County Commission to move the discussions forward on a new contract between both parties.

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