BY KEN LITTLE
The Tusculum Board of Mayor and Commissioners approved a proposed 2013-14 budget on first reading Monday night.
The spending measure is ly to go before the board for second and final approval at the board's next meeting, on June 17.
Anticipated revenue is $895,700. Total anticipated expenditures are $1.28 million, for a deficit of $390,135.
The deficit is tied to one-time expenses relating to the $851,000 sewer improvement project along East Andrew Johnson Highway within the Tusculum city limits.
The work will be partially funded by a $436,000 matching federal grant.
The city is responsible for remaining expenses associated with the sewer project, which Mayor John Foster said will encourage commercial growth along the corridor and increase sales tax revenue.
The sewer project aside, city revenue in 2013-14 is projected at $459,700 and expenditures are anticipated to be $434,900.
REVENUE IS STEADY
"The revenue is approximately the same as 2012, to the best of our knowledge," Foster said.
"We're fiscally sound. I'm satisfied, and I think we have properly budgeted our revenue, even though we have had a couple of areas where we have had a decrease [in revenue]."
One is loss of interest income, a situation most municipalities have coped with in recent years.
Interest income for 2013-14 is anticipated at $12,000, compared with $40,300 in 2010-11, Foster said.
Fines from police tickets have declined from $25,500 in 2010-11 to a projected $20,000 in 2013-14, Foster said.
Health insurance for the city's four full-time employees will go up 18.1 percent in 2013-14, Foster said, mirroring another budgetary challenge faced by municipalities across the country.
"I've communicated with employees. We're going to have to do something to stop this bleeding, in my opinion," Foster said.
On the revenue-producing side, local sales tax is projected to bring in $83,000 in 2013-14.
The city of Tusculum's share of revenues from state sales tax is estimated at $180,000. The state gas and fuel tax is projected to add another $68,300. The city will receive another $30,300 from Tennessee Valley Authority in lieu of property tax.
'HOLDS ITS OWN'
"The 2013-14 budget that we're talking about holds its own in revenue," Foster said. "A chunk of it is state-shared revenue and local sales taxes."
The deficit tied to the sewer system will be paid for from a fund the city has set aside for occasional budgetary needs. The fund currently totals $1.6 million.
No major road projects are included in the 2013-14 budget.
The city included $109,000 in its 2012-13 budget to pay for its share of the Ball Road improvement project approved last year. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is overseeing the work.
"We've made a conscious decision not to do a lot of road work this year to offset what we spent on Ball Road," Foster said.
Of the $439,900 in expenditures projected for 2013-14, about $380,000 is in fixed expenses, leaving the city $50,000 for "discretionary spending" in areas such as salaries and benefits, animal control, state planning fees, insurance, street lights, utilities and street improvements, Foster said.
GARBAGE TRUCK ON HOLD
Because of a lack of action by county commissioners regarding discontinuing use of county transfer stations, the City of Tusculum will hold off on purchasing a new garbage truck for the foreseeable future, Foster said.
"There's so much going on there. Obviously, they're not going to make the deadline of July 1," he said.
The City of Tusculum fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.
When the time comes, a new garage truck to replace one of the city's aging vehicles could cost up to $150,000, Foster said.
"If they ever make up their mind what they want to do, then we will know what we have to do," he said.
The 2010 Census shows the population of Tusculum grew from 2,500 to 2,663 during the previous 10 years, an increase of 6.6 percent. Population helps determine the ratio in state tax revenues returned to the municipality from the state.
Tusculum does not have a city property tax, and the town derives much of its revenue from money returned to the city through state-shared taxes.
LOCK BOX ORDINANCE
In other business, an ordinance for the installation of "Rapid Entry System" lock boxes in certain buildings to provide easier access to city firefighters was adopted on second and final reading.
The ordinance requires certain structures "to have a key lock box installed on the exterior of the structure to provide rapid entry into buildings by the fire department responding in the city during times of emergency."
Types of buildings required to have lock boxes under the ordinance include newly-constructed apartment buildings, or other new rental buildings containing four or more residential living units.
City officials have explained that installation of the boxes provides easier access to the building for members of the Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department in the event of an emergency or alarm, without damaging any property to obtain entry.
The law will apply only to new commercial structures.
The key lock box system has been adopted nationally, including in Greeneville, and will operate on a controlled master key basis "that will expedite entry" into a building by the fire department in an emergency.
The lock box system "can reduce the potential for rapid extension of fire and other hazardous conditions by quick access and decreasing dangers for firefighters," according to the ordinance.
Under the ordinance, the following types of buildings would be required to have lock boxes:
* new construction of any apartment building or other rental building containing four or more residential living units, and where access to the building or to common areas, or mechanical or electrical rooms within the buildings, is denied through locked doors;
* new construction of any non-residential building where a fire detection or suppression system is monitored by an alarm company or has an external audible alarm;
* new construction of any building or facility containing a quantity of hazardous materials that would require compliance with the federal Superfund Amendment Reauthorization Act;
* new installation of private security gates for subdivisions.
In other business, no action was taken on a second and final reading on a revised city "Personnel Policies and Procedures Handbook."
City Attorney Jim Mercer will make some minor revisions to the ordinance, which could be adopted by commissioners in June, Foster said.