City Council approves 8-cent tax increase

Published 9:37 am Friday, June 23, 2023

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Star Correspondent
The Elizabethton City Council on Thursday approved an 8-cent tax increase and the creation of two new administrative positions at city hall.
Council members held a special called meeting to vote on the annual budget before the beginning of the 2023-2024 fiscal year. After Thursday’s vote, the property tax rate will increase to $1.65, an increase of 8 cents.
The goal of the increase is to fund paving projects across the city. Raising the tax rate will increase the paving budget by $240,000, according to Finance Director Preston Cobb.
Councilman Kim Birchfield voted against the increase, which was heard on second and final reading.
The city plans to pave several streets in the upcoming fiscal year. Work will likely begin once construction concludes on West Elk Avenue and Broad Street, City Manager Daniel Estes has said.
The budget includes several major projects, such as the potential purchase of the Cowan property on South Main Street, improvements to the Franklin Pool and an economic impact study for Surf Betsy. The Cowan property is located adjacent to the Covered Bridge Park.
No public comments were made regarding the budget.
All councilmen, except Birchfield, also voted on second and final reading to increase water and sewer minimum monthly bills for all meters.
The current minimum monthly bill for a standard residential sized meter is $18.95 for city customers and $25.84 for regional customers per month. The current sewer cost is $18.32 per month, according to Cobb.
Council approved a $1.50 increase to the water base charge for the standard residential meter sizes and a proportionally distributed increase to the larger meters, as well as a $1.50 increase to the sewer charge.
Members also unanimously approved on first reading the creation of an assistant city manager to help with the city manager’s duties.
The city currently has 12 department heads that report to the city manager.
“This is a large span of control for one manager to direct and oversee,” notes from the agenda state. The position has been included in the budget request.
Council also approved the creation of a human resources and payroll specialist.

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