Plan Is Sought
By Smith To Deal
With Future Goals
BY LAUREN HENRY
The Greeneville Budget & Finance Committee called into question Monday morning what its role will be in the future.
Committee members Jack Fitzpatrick and Bob Windham questioned where the committee fits in creating the Town budget now that the city adminstrator form of government is in place.
Under the new charter that establishes the city administrator role, the city administrator prepares and purposes a budget plan for the Town of Greeneville.
"I think the crux of the meeting today was establishing the role of the Finance & Budgeting Committee," City Administrator Todd Smith said.
"It is part of this evolutionary process of this city adminstrator form of government."
The Budget & Finance Committee was created a few years ago to create the budget, which was then considered, discussed and passed by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Before that, that Town budget was created by the Town Recorder and presented to the Board for discussion and action.
Smith said the Board will discuss what they would like the role of the Budget & Finance Committee to be in the future.
The Town of Greeneville may now handle closing entries for its finances in-house thanks to an evolving Recorder's Office.
Brooke Davis started as an accountant with the Town on Aug. 6 after working for Blackburn, Childers & Steagall, PLC.
The Town has contracted with Blackburn, Childers & Steagall in the past in order to close the books each budget year.
However, with the addition of Davis, Greeneville should be able to close its books without outside assistance, reported Carol Susong, Town Recorder, at Monday morning's meeting of the Budget & Finance Committee.
Susong estimated that the Town has spent from $25,000 to $50,000 just to complete a year-end audit in previous years.
She said the Records office has been in transition and several employees short, requiring the outside assistance of the certified public accounting and consulting firm.
"Accounting-wise, you can't have the same person to sign checks, make journal entries, and then reconcile the bank accounts," Susong said. "That's why we contracted out."
However, Greeneville has not recently had to rely on outside help, which City Administrator Todd Smith said will save the Town money.
"Since the first of August we have only had to make one phone call to Blackburn for advice, but other than that, we have not used any outside accounting firm," Susong said.
She said the phone call was because of a Human Resources question after the HR employee left in August. The current HR director, Patsy Fuller, was hired this fall.
Smith presented the report for the month of October, which will go before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The report revealed that year-to-date revenue is up 3.1 percent from October of last year.
This is a reflection of the beginning of the tax-collecting season, which continues through February.
Susong said the largest months for revenue typically fall in December, from those that want to finish up the year with taxes paid, and February, with the majority waiting until the last month to pay taxes.
Smith pointed out that the budgeted revenue of $21,047,355 for fiscal year 2012-2013 does not include street aid repair, which is about $400,000. Smith said this is in a separate fund.
The report also reflected a higher-than-usual expenditure under the health, welfare, culture and recreation line item.
Although the fiscal year is only one-third of the way through, 50 percent of the budget amount for these purposes has been spent.
Susong said that this is a reflection of the Hal Henard Sports Complex, which had to be completed in August. Although a large part of the budget is already spent, the Town does not expect to go over budget.
Smith reported that sales tax revenues are a bit down, by about $6,000. Smith said this is a trend across the state.
Mayor W.T. Daniels questioned the role that online purchasing has played in reducing sales tax revenue.
Smith recognized the impact that online sales have had nationwide, where no government entity is receiving tax proceeds from online purchases.
According to Smith, this is an area in which the federal government will need to step in to exercise its interstate commerce regulatory power.
CAPITAL BUDGET PLAN
Smith said he would like to have a Capital Budget Plan for dealing with future goals.
He has presented in the past his plan to create a Fund Balance with 25 to 35 percent of the operating budget designated each year to go into that Fund Balance.
Smith described it as a type of "rainy day" fund to ensure Greeneville has money in reserve for the future.
Excess revenue can be used from the Fund Balance to cover capital expenditures for infrastructure improvements.
According to Davis, the accountant, reclassification of fund balances moves the funds from allocation in two categories -- restricted and unrestricted -- to allocation in five categories.
The change, he said, creates narrow categories of "committed funds," "assigned funds," "restricted funds," "unassigned funds," and "nonspendable funds."
Smith said the Town would like to create a Capital Budget Plan rather than a Capital Fund to retain flexibility to use money more freely than would be allowed if the money was allocated into categories.
Smith discussed what are seen as the Town's highest-priority capital needs for the near future.
Improvements in the landfill are not specifically a Town issue since the landfill falls under county jurisdiction as well, but Smith said it is an area of priority for the Town.
Also, the Fire Department will need to purchase new trucks soon, he said.
Smith said he advised the Fire Department, as a cost-saving measure, to purchase the minimum number of Quint fire trucks and supplement with pumper trucks, which cost about half the expense of a Quint fire truck.
Also, the Public Works Department needs to replace a front-loader truck. Smith estimates the new truck's lifespan will be about 10 years.
Street paving is treated separately from the capital budget, Smith said.
In the Department of Parks and Recreation, Smith cited the problems with the EastView pool, which has been losing money each year.
He said Greeneville is discussing replacing the pool with a splash pad, which is a surface area where water sprays into the air and then drains back onto the pad, leaving no standing water.
A splash pad can be open longer each year, costs less for upkeep, and, it is hoped, will not cost the Town in yearly losses as the current pool has, Smith said.
He said there is funding for the creation of a possible disc golf course and dog park on a piece of property the Town owns off Whirlwind Road.
A disc golf course uses Frisbees and nets, rather than golf balls and clubs, to simulate a golf course-type game.
The property is an old landfill that has been closed since the late 1970s.
Smith said the Town has met with state officials, who approved the concept of the proposed new park.
But the Town has been given restrictions for construction of the proposed park, specifically, to not penetrate the cap over the landfill.
Smith said the Town is currently creating a proposed budget for the park's creation.
"It's a beautiful piece of property," he stated.