City continues 2018-19 budget talks

Published 5:05 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Elizabethton officials continue to look ahead for the 2018-19 fiscal year budget.

During Tuesday’s budget workshop inside City Hall, officials spent time hearing from different department heads and looking at various ways to address bond funding for different entities within the system.

Last week, Council unanimously agreed to move $1.5 million allocated from the bond — totally at approximately $2.6 million for renovations at Joe O’Brien Field to be used for other projects to help encourage economic development and safety in Elizabethton. Currently, the money is being requested to go to various entities.

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$1 million — Elizabethton Police Department for work at the old Ritchie’s Warehouse for expansion

$250,000 — Elizabethton Fire Department to address issues in their station and equipment

$250,000 — Assisting with Hampton Golf to improve the Elizabethton Golf Course

$250,000 — To go toward the development of a sports complex in the city

$150,000 — New roof and windows at the Bonnie Kate Theater

$100,000 — Improvements at Covered Bridge Park

Another item discussed during the meeting was the bond funding to address a new console to assist with radio communications for the fire and police department. The roughly $145,000 purchase was originally in the budget, but taken out. Council agreed to use the bond to help cover the cost for the communication equipment, which leaves over $450,000 for the city to use for one-time expenditures for the “development, construction, equipping and improvement of public buildings and facilities for police and public safety purposes, public parks, playgrounds, ballparks and other recreational facilities,” according to Tennessee Code Annotated.

Department heads that spoke during the meeting mentioned they are keeping their budget lean with additional funds put back to address the final outcome of the city’s employee compensation study — which is in the process of being finalized and looked over by City Hall before getting implemented.

Another hot topic of discussion included Water Resources Department Manager Johann Coetzee asking officials to look at purchasing roughly 74 acres near the Hampton Spring to help keep the water supply safe for residents.

The topic was brought up during March’s meeting where a resolution was on the table to purchase the land for $130,000 from owner Eugene Lewis, who has the land for logging purposes.

While the city was in agreement to purchase the land, the item was deferred following the results of an appraisal. The results were brought up during the meeting with the appraisal sitting at $101,000 — not including logging property.

Council opted to give City Attorney Roger Day the authority to look at reopening negotiations with Lewis to pursue purchasing the land.

Items discussed during budget workshops do not go into effect until the passage of the 2018-19 budget, which will be brought before City Council during a future meeting, for a vote.