Non-profits won't see more funds

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Shelbyville City Council, during a study session Tuesday night, voted to hold non-profit agency contributions to the same level as last year, to fund four new requests at half the asked-for amount, and not to grant a capital outlay request from Bedford County Arts Council.

Although the city is expecting some slight improvement in the tax base after several years of stagnation, it's giving its own employees their first raise in several years, and is projecting only a $211,722 increase to the ending fund balance on its $15 million budget, which City Manager Jay Johnson called "extremely tight."

No extra funds

The city says it doesn't have extra funds for a capital outlay request from Bedford County Arts Council, which was asking for new heating and air conditioning units at The Fly Arts Center in addition to its regular contribution request.

"If we start funding one-time capital for social service agencies, it opens a mighty big door," said Johnson.

Argie Cooper Public Library had asked for an increase of $11,890 in its allocation, from $130,500 to $142,390.

The council voted to give the existing list of non-profit agencies, including the library the same amount they received last year, not to grant the capital outlay request, and to fund four new line item requests -- Bridge of Hope, Haven of Hope, Boys & Girls Club, and Bedford Against Drugs Community Coalition -- at half of their requested amounts.

Much study

Tuesday night's meeting was the first of two budget study sessions this week; the second will be Thursday night.

Johnson and city treasurer Jamey Owen walked the council through some of the various budget items and requests. They also explained some changes to the organization of the budget -- for example, where a budget appeared to have dramatically increased or decreased, not because of a change in actual expenditure, but because something within that budget had been reclassified and now appeared in a different location than in the past.

The budget was passed on first reading May 22; a public hearing on it will be held June 14 prior to final consideration. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

The budget includes no new taxes or increases in tax rates. It includes a 2.5 percent raise for city employees, their first in several years.

Personnel requests

City Hall will get a new half-time employee, who will be designated as a "floater" and will fill in or assist as needed.

The Planning and Codes department will get no new personnel, and will continue its contract with South Central Tennessee Development District for a planning consultant. A software package used by the department for issuing permits is no longer supported and will have to be replaced.

As a side note, Johnson reported that he's interviewed four people for the vacant codes inspector position, and three of the interviews were promising.

The city will buy a new riding lawnmower for use on the three cemeteries maintained by the city.

Airport plans

Shelbyville Municipal Airport, which gave up a full-time position several years ago due to the economic crunch, currently has a part-time employee who has been working more than 30 hours a week and proposes to convert him to full-time employment.

The airport plans a large capital project -- rehabilitation of the taxiway -- but 90 percent of it will be funded by a state grant. Airport manager Hank Williamson reported that the facility is well-used.

"I know I'm spending lots of money but we're making lots of money too," said Williamson.

He said T-hangars installed a decade ago are nearly paid for, and he wishes he had more to rent out.

Police proposals

The city police department is not asking for any personnel changes. The department is proposing four new cars, saying that it needs to buy four or five new cars a year just to keep up its replacement schedule on its 40-vehicle fleet.

The city is seeking a long-term lease on the county-owned firing range operated by the city police department; if that lease can be obtained, the city will spend about $18,000 to fence in and secure the range. If not, the city will build its own range on city-owned property on Sims Road, at a cost of $39,500.

More items

The city plans to purchase a new bucket truck. The truck will replace a ladder truck at the city parks department which was called old, unsafe and undependable. The new bucket truck would be available for use by several different city agencies.

Other capital expenditures by the city include replacing air conditioning units at the city-owned building which houses Shelbyville & Bedford County Senior Citizens Center, repair to stairs at City Hall, and phase I environmental testing for a new industrial park.

The city will roll over $100,000 from the current year's budget which will be available for an industrial project -- either a new industrial park, or costs relating to any new industrial prospect.

Shelbyville Animal Control will add a new half-time position to assist in weekend response. Police Chief Austin Swing called the animal control department "very understaffed and very underappreciated."

Thursday's meeting will continue the department-by-department look at the budget. It will begin at 6 p.m. at the city police department courtroom.