User fees for parks? County proposed budget leaves Council seeking answers to recoup funds

Published 4:40 pm Friday, June 15, 2018

As Carter County looks to finalize their 2018-19 fiscal year budget, City Council is doing their part to brace for potential funding cuts to city entities.

Discussion broke out during the department heads’ monthly report portion of Thursday’s Council meeting when Councilman Jeff Treadway responded to a report issued by Mike Mains, director of Parks & Rec, that indicated the county’s current projected budget has funding to the department cut out entirely.

The report states, “we received news that the Carter County Budget Committee was considering cutting all allocation funding to this department. Currently, Carter County gives an annual allocation of $11,281.25 that assists with our overall budget of $1,587,761.”

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Mains stated that a study, performed by the county, recently showed that 63 percent of users of park facilities are non-residents of the City of Elizabethton.

Due to the nature of the current budget, Treadway brought up the idea of the department to look at possibly implementing user fees for park facilities as a way to recoup any potential loss of funding and expressed concern about the county subsidizing parks and recreation activities for county residents.

While everything is still tentative of the county’s final decision, Mains added that he would research the idea of fees. Councilman Richard Tester also encouraged Mains to speak with surrounding departments to see how they handle these types of scenarios.

It was a discussion that also included discouragement on the county’s current projected budget, which also includes cuts to the Elizabethton Senior Center. As the county braces for a potential tax increase, a public hearing is scheduled to take place on Monday, June 18, at the Carter County Courthouse at 5 p.m. prior to the regularly scheduled County Commission meeting. Per the request of Tester, the city is looking to adopt a letter to express the city’s concern on cuts and a city representative will be in attendance to present the document.

For the city, a special-called meeting will be held June 25 at 4 p.m. for the second and final reading for the city government budget and Elizabethton City Schools budget.

Mayor Curt Alexander praised the efforts of the city staff, past city manager and officials for allowing the city to be in a good financial situation. The city’s proposed 2018-19 budget does not include a tax increase.


In other business, Council voted to approve the purchase of the Hampton Watershed Property and gave the OK for a variety of upcoming events, including the Race For Wandell and Parks & Rec Department’s annual Independence Day Celebration.