Budget issues dominate discussion
Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012 9:52 pm
By KEVIN BOWDEN
While the rest of America was fixated on election results Tuesday night, the Kenton mayor and board of aldermen was busy deliberating over budget matters.
For just over an hour, the board tackled an agenda dominated by issues related to spending.
The issue of expenses related to the city’s community center sparked a lively discussion among board members.
Board member Faye Sharp, the city’s parks and recreation commissioner, continues to be concerned about unusually high electric bills for the center and complained at the meeting about an $1,100 electric bill from GEMC in August.
“I’m telling you, that bill was not right,” she said.
Board members tossed around opinions and suggestions, even going so far as to suggest shutting down the center, but after the lengthy discussion it was decided to have officials with the utility company check the building and its electrical usage. Also, the board voted to sign up for a TVA program to install more energy efficient lighting at the community center.
Under the TVA program, the city will be reimbursed up to 70 percent of the cost for the new lighting system.
Mrs. Sharp tried unsuccessfully to get the board to consider increasing the $100 rental fee for the community center. She explained she is against Kenton taxpayers paying to keep the center in operation.
“We’re coming out in the hole,” she said. “We’re going to have to go up on the rent.”
Mrs. Sharp stood by her position, while others on the board were strongly opposed to raising the rent.
What the board did decide Tuesday night was to tap into the city’s near $19,000 parks and recreation fund to pay off loans for work on the building.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the board tabled a $3,045 proposal to install a security fence behind the police department and voted to extend the city’s health insurance coverage until the board’s next meeting. Board member and police commissioner Angie Taylor proposed having Weakley County Fencing build the fence to be used to store seized and impounded vehicles. The city would be able to charge $30 to $35 per day for the vehicles, but the expense for the fence caused concern among other board members.
“I think it would be good, but I don’t think our budget could handle it,” Mayor Virginia Davidson said. Others on the board agreed, so the proposal was tabled.
As for the city’s health insurance plan, a 9.25 percent increase in the premium has the board looking at other proposals. The board is expected to consider those proposals at next month’s meeting.
In other action, the board:
• Was informed the state comptroller’s office will be meeting with city officials due to the city budget’s being in the red for three consecutive years. “So, they’re coming,” Mrs. Davidson said.
• Was informed the city’s Christmas Parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 1, with the parade lineup set for 5 p.m. in the former Plastech plant parking lot.
• Was informed by the mayor that the city saved almost $400 this past month by not having to pay fuel taxes for city vehicles. Recently, the mayor discovered the city was being charged fuel taxes and now the city’s fuel purchases are tax-exempt. Mrs. Davidson told the board the state is reviewing the last three years of fuel purchases to reimburse the city for the taxes already paid.
Mrs. Davidson described the announcement as “good news” for the city.
Then the mayor delivered a little bad news for the board. Two grants the city had applied for have been denied, while a third grant is still being considered. The news about the two grants prompted a discussion about whether the board should consider hiring a new grant writer.
No decision was made at Tuesday’s meeting, but the matter is expected to be brought back up at a future board meeting.
• Ms. Taylor announced the city’s police department issued 70 citations in October and responded to 140 calls during the month. She also reported the city has been approved for a $5,000 state grant as well as a grant that will cover half the cost for new bullet-proof vests for police officers. The total cost for the new vests is expected to be about $3,000.
• Agreed to spend $195 a year to have the state’s Local Government back up the city’s computer system.
“That would save a lot of headaches,” Mrs. Davidson said.
Tuesday’s meeting was opened in prayer led by board member Sarah Skinner.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 11.8.12