Another workshop session to hammer out the city’s fiscal budget for next year was held Tuesday evening by LaFollette City Council before its regular council meeting. At last week’s workshop, it was revealed the city was more than a half million dollars over budget with the June 30th deadline approaching.
After meeting during the week to see what could be cut from the budget, City Administrator Cade Sexton and Finance Director Terry Sweat came up with enough deductions to lower that overrun by more than $200,000.
Among the cuts were full-time salaried positions on both the police and fire departments that were waiting to be filled. Also a vacated position in the sanitation department was taken out. Public Works director Jim Mullins said, “We’ll do what we have to do” when asked if he’ll be able to manage without the position filled.
Two positions with the recreation department were also eliminated. Half the salary of these hires were to be paid for by the county school board.
Also a part-time position in the city’s main office will not be part of the new budget. It was mistakenly left out of the budget so it wasn’t there to take out.
After these cuts and a few others, the budget overrun stands at about $313,000. Sexton said perhaps the city should look at bonuses for city employees for possible cuts. He also mentioned they’ve already lowered their health insurance rates to save money.
Sweat said May and June should bring good sales tax numbers but that money usually doesn’t come in until July or early August.
The city has three outstanding bond issues on which it’s currently paying, one of which should be paid off in 2014. It was suggested that maybe the it’s time to look to the general fund as a source to pay the lowest of the notes.
Hansford Hatmaker said in no uncertain terms he was against any suggestion of a tax increase to make up for the budget overrun.
Yet another workshop was scheduled for Thursday, June 28th at 5:30pm to work out the final details of the new budget before it needs to be finalized.
After a short adjournment, council met for its regular monthly session at which time they took comments from citizens. One local resident of W. Walden asked about the possibility of paving that street between 15th and 17th Streets. It’s a 500-foot stretch of road that’s “really bad” and in need of maintainence. Jim Mullins was asked by council to make this job a priority whenever more grant money for paving work comes in.
Council approved payment of $540 to Paul Begley. Begley was project manager for the new library. He allegedly quit in a dispute with the city but was still owed money. Council approved the payment with Mayor Mike Stanfield and councilman Joe Bollinger voting against it.
James Walden was approved as a board member for a five-year term at LaFollette Utilities.
An additional $20,000 in funding was approved to finish work at the new library including carpeting, blinds, hand rails, etc. The projected grand opening date is still set for July 25th. The library may have a “soft opening” before then.
Council also approved a move to turn building inspections over to the State of Tennessee.
City employees of the Public Works department now have new summer working hours. Council approved a new workday of 7:00am to 4:00pm due to higher temperatures.
Also approved was $30,000 to come from the Community Services Fund to complete the parking area at the new East LaFollette sports complex.
And, finally, council approved Ordinance 2012-03, the Annual Appropriations Ordinance for the 2012/2013 fiscal year.
Council then adjourned with nothing on the Beer Board agenda.