Pending county budget highlights Council meeting

Published 4:19 pm Friday, July 13, 2018

As the Carter County Commission looks to vote on a possible 2018-19 budget on Monday, Elizabethton officials are still looking at ways to potentially brace for any cuts by departments.

The full City Council met Thursday evening and went through a relatively cut-and-dry agenda but discussions once again reopened about the county’s budget, with the current proposal seeing cuts to the Elizabethton Senior Center and Elizabethton Parks and Recreation.

During the departmental reports’ portion of the meeting, Council member Jeff Treadway asked Parks & Rec Director Mike Mains for an update on the possibility of instituting user fees for city park facilities for non-resident users.

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The idea was first brought up during June’s meeting when it stated that the county was cutting out its allocation of $11,281.25 to Elizabethton Parks & Rec. The contribution helps fund the department’s overall budget of $1,587,761.

Mains indicated that department is working with surrounding departments and seeing how they handle these types of situations.

“We’re in the phase of receiving surveys from other departments to see how they handle user fees for non-resident users and if they do that at all,” Mains said. “Our staff is currently going through that process now.”

Mains also took time to praise the efforts of City Manager Daniel Estes, who spoke during a public forum about the proposed county budget prior to last month’s County Commission meeting to bring the Council’s worries about the potential cuts.

“I believe Mr. Estes did a great job in relaying the concerns from Council about the cuts to our funding for agencies,” Mains said. “I definitely understand the Commission has a difficult decision ahead of them when it comes to their budget.

“We’ve been able to see an increase in activity at our parks,” Mains continued. “As we continue to improve the parks for the public, steps need to be made to ensure that we can continue our goal. Council has done a tremendous job in supporting the department and I can understand their concerns in looking at this possibility and doing what needs to be done to ensure we can continue to offer a service to the public.”

In departmental report from June, a recent report performed from the county showed that 63 percent of users of park facilities are non-residents of the City of Elizabethton.

To help keep the momentum going for the department, Mains said the support has to be there. A busy summer schedule for the department includes maintaining the parks and recreational areas within the city, along with handling the management of the Elizabethton Twins Minor League Baseball team.


Estes has told Council that the support from the state is there for a new sports complex off Cherokee Park Drive. The city manager provided an update to different projects underway and added that he and Sen. Rusty Crowe had a meeting and that the senator would support the sports complex idea and help push it to Gov. Bill Haslam after plans and projections for the site are finalized.


In other business, Council unanimously approved the measure of allowing the Elizabethton Police Department to use an alternate uniform during hot weather, along with special detail and bicycle patrol. Another unanimous approval from Council included the transfer of 38 surplus handheld radios to the Elizabethton/Carter County Emergency Management Office.


Council also approved an amendment to an ordinance relating to the requirement of sidewalks. Developed from the Regional Planning Commission, the new requirements only allow new sidewalks to be constructed by a developer if they are half of a mile in residential zones and one-fourth of a mile in commercial zones of existing sidewalks. A concern from the Commission was the “sidewalks to nowhere” that see one small stretch of sidewalk being near a new development and not linking to another stretch of sidewalk. Councilman Wes Frazier stated one example are the sidewalk areas located on State Line Road. The motion passed 6-1 with Treadway voting against the measure.