Harriman budget still being tweaked

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By Cindy Simpson

Harriman city government spent more than they took in last fiscal year.

Harriman Treasurer Charles Kerley said the city ended the year spending $233,312 more than was brought in in revenue last fiscal year.

Harriman City Council has yet to approve a first or second reading of fiscal year 2012 budget.

Part of their discussions this month include how the past year has closed out.

Kerley said the city had to dip into its fund balance during budget talks for the current fiscal year.

While the city starts with a little over $87,713 in unappropriated revenue, under Kerley’s budget the city would end the year with $123,192.

The treasurer said it would be good to start building it back up.

The state is now expecting the communities to have better policies in regards to fund balance and debt.

“They are trying to make every city in Tennessee knowledgeable of the importance of fund balance policy, of having a fund balance and maintaining it,” Kerley said.

“That total fund balance is what, about 8 percent?” Councilman Lonnie Wright asked.

“It is somewhere in that neighborhood,” Kerley acknowleged.

Part of the reason for the city’s financial troubles involve $150,000 that the state took when an entity was declared a nonprofit as opposed to a business.

Kerley refused to name the entity.

The state refunded sales tax for that entity back to 2008.

In local sales tax Kerley budgeted around $1.9 million, including the amount they lost.

“So I’m not being real aggressive in forecasting growth there,” Kerley said.

He is hopeful, however, that revenues will gradually increase.

Kerley has said he projects slow but steady growth rather than booming retail development in Midtown.

In previous meetings, Kerley showed where the city made gains in collections in many areas compared to previous fiscal years but were still under projections.

Kerley also mentioned one avenue of funds that could be used to take on projects such as paving, sidewalks or street lighting — that’s $56,000 the city didn’t use out of a $1.2 million line of credit the city had established for paving and other projects.

Kerley said that money is still available.

The proposed budget does include 2-percent raises for employees, even though 3-percent increases were originally discussed.

“It would start after a final reading of the budget, rather than backtracking,” Kerley said.

Kerley also scheduled additional increases for City Clerk Angela Skidmore and front office employee Teresa Daniels because of additional responsibilities and training they’ve taken on.

Skidmore, he said, has taken the certified clerk training and financial officer training.

“She’d be some low-hanging fruit for someone to pick off if we don’t recognize the accomplishments she’s made,” Kerley said.