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Board approves budget, salary, tax ordinances on first reading

By Bill ShortFlag City Logo

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed budget, salary and tax rate ordinances on first reading this week for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
Board members took the actions Monday night during their regular monthly meeting. The ordinances are scheduled for second reading at a special called meeting at 5 p.m. next Monday.
A motion offered by Alderman Bethany Huffman and seconded by Alderman Mike Caruthers for approval of the proposed budget ordinance was passed by six affirmative votes, with Alderman Chris Ford the lone dissenter.
During discussion shortly before the vote, City Finance Director John Trusty said preparation of the ordinance was based on the document he gave the board members at their work session last Thursday. He acknowledged that, after changes are recommended during subsequent work sessions, the ordinance will be amended before the public hearing and final reading, which is scheduled for a special called meeting at 6 p.m. June 27.
Trusty suggested that the board pass the ordinance on the first and second readings before recommending any changes to it. Then, the proposed changes can be posted on the city’s Web site, with printed copies also available at City Hall, for at least 10 days before the final reading.
In response to a question by Ford, Trusty said the ordinance lists the same employee positions that have been suggested for removal. But City Manager Thomas Christie acknowledged that those numbers “will change.”
Alderman Thomas McGhee asked about the amount proposed to be spent on road repair. Christie said that has been increased to $243,000, which is equal to a 15-cent property tax increase.
When Mayor Terry Jones asked about the $1 million in the “emergency account” for the General Fund, Trusty said Section 12 of the ordinance creates “restrictions.”
“We did that in last year’s budget as well,” he recalled, “so that we don’t have a lot of uncommitted fund balance that people want to spend.”
Because almost one-third of the appropriations in next year’s fund balance are “designated,” Trusty said there is a “reserve” to cover any shortfalls in revenue or “timing” of revenues.
As examples, he said the fund balance contains cash to pay for flood damage. And 50 percent of the revenue collected from the traffic cameras in 2012 will go into the library construction account for the third consecutive year.
“I know this is going to go through tonight, because we have to,” Ford acknowledged. “I know we’ll discuss it in our work session, but this is way too many layoffs.”
Trusty noted that, under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 6-54-111, anytime government funds are provided to a nonprofit organization, municipalities are required to do “certain things.”
One is to specifically enumerate those funds in either the budget ordinance or a separate one.
Because he has done that in the budget ordinance, Trusty said that covers the $18,000 appropriation to the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce and the $150,000 to the YMCA.
“But, absent that,” he told the board members, “you would have to come back with a separate enabling resolution or ordinance to make those appropriations.”
A motion offered by McGhee and seconded by Alderman Frankie Dakin to approve the Position Control Budget and Compensation Policy was passed unanimously.
Trusty said the “narrative part” of the ordinance is basically identical to the one that was passed last year. The major differences are that there is no cost-of-living increase included this year, and the ordinance lists fewer pay grades.
“It now has only a minimum and a maximum pay range,” he noted. “It doesn’t have minimum, mid-point and maximum anymore.”
In response to a question by Caruthers, Christie said that, after the board’s next work session, the ordinance will have an attached list of all the permanent employee positions that are being approved in the budget.
A motion offered by Dakin and seconded by McGhee for approval of an ordinance to levy and assess a tax on real and personal property at a rate of $1.34 for each $100 of assessed valuation was passed unanimously.

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