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Harriman slated to finalize budget with no new taxes

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By Cindy Simpson

Harriman will likely finalize its 2014 fiscal budget on second reading Tuesday.

Harriman City Council meets in regular session at 7 p.m. following the fire board meeting.

The proposed budget, which includes no proposed property tax increase, has general fund revenue of $7.5 million and appropriations of $7.2 million.

Unappropriated fund balance is $210,110, with a total unassigned fund balance of $834,272.

“We still have some bills we need to pay, but it will be pretty close (to the $210,110),” said Harriman Treasurer Charles Kerley.

He projects the ending unappropriated fund balance of $482,916 at the end of next year.

The Emory Golf Course was a topic he has said will need addressing in the future.

Though he originally supported the city taking over operations of the course, the continued revenue shortfalls have Kerley concerned.

“When we first took it over, we were operating around a $30,000 deficit,” Kerley said. “Right now, it is over $100,000.”

He recently advocated looking at leasing the course for private operation, which he said he understands can be successful.

He and others, including Councilmen Chris Ahler and Ken Mynatt, believe the course is a recreational asset to the city.  

Councilman Kenyon Mee pointed out that about $35,000 was spent replacing greens, which hopefully will increase play and revenue at the course.

Kerley said there was more than $64,000 in overtime in all departments last fiscal year, with $21,413 reimbursable from other avenues. That left around $21,000 of city funding.

Increasing paving and a backhoe were all items city officials wanted to see put in the budget. Councilman Lonnie Wright said the backhoe has been removed from several past budgets, but it is needed.

Councilman Buddy Holley, who is on the Harriman Utility Board, said the utility has been successfully buying used and refurbished equipment.

Mayor Chris Mason wants to pave, and he said the county and other towns have asked if they are interested. Rogers Group is offering a group rate of $68 a ton on asphalt.

Kerley was concerned about paving now because of cash flow problems early in the fiscal year. Summertime is when revenue is slight for city governments.

Mason, however, asked about the grant anticipation note they could apply for to pay the city’s portions of grants, using the freed money for paving and other projects. Kerley has put in the budget a $500,000 grant anticipation note he doesn’t believe the city will need to use.

Funding grants for the coming year had Kerley concerned, but he thinks the schedule of payments versus reimbursement should be manageable. Previously it looked like a lot of work would start early in the fiscal year, the biggest drought period for incoming revenue for cities.

Kerley also projected an increase in local sales tax from $1.995 million to $2 million because of recently opened businesses such as Bojangles.

“Assuming cannibalism isn’t too large in the city,” Kerley said, referring to business sales moving from one entity to the other rather than new revenue being created.

Kerley said last year’s sales tax was up. He forecasted $400,000 in downtown building sales.