Kingston proposed tax increase 7 cents

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By The Staff



The trend this budget season seems to be aiming for a tight one.

Kingston City Council discussed expected revenues and expenditures for the 2008-09 fiscal year and to determine which capital improvements are the most important for the city.

The council, which met last week, was joined by department heads who approached council with their needs.

Expected revenues are about $5.079 million, which is an increase of $673,985, or 15 percent over last year.

The revenue increase is due to a proposed property tax increase of 7 cents, which amounts to $75,000.

For a house valued at $100,000, this will mean an increase of $17 per year, officials said.

The budget also includes a $199,064 FEMA grant to hire additional firefighters and a fund balance of $125,880.

Also expected to help fill the city coffers is a new hotel/motel occupancy tax that was passed in March. It is expected to bring in $73,000.

Even with the additional increase in revenues, the city will still be operating on a tight budget.

“Major increases in mandates seem to really be driving the budget,” City Manager Jim Pinkerton said.

Price increases and mandates will increase expenditures by $408,828.

These include a budgeted insurance increase of 12 percent, a 10-percent increase in electricity and garbage collection, and $19,587 increase in gas costs.

It also includes $80,000 toward 121 new police radios, which will be required to com-municate with the E-911 center.

The budget also includes a 2-percent across-the-board employee raise.

“I wish we could do more,” Pinkerton said.

It also includes a 10-percent match of $52,000 for a grant from Tennessee Department of Transportation for an interchange light at Gallaher Road and Interstate 40.

Another $6,500 will go toward installing hand rails at the community center.

Other budget impacts include a street sweeper, which will be lease-purchased and will cost the city $29,377 over five years.

“It’s a smaller truck than we have now,” public works director Tim Clark said.

The sweeper the city has needs about $25,000 in repairs.

The budget also includes an increase of 32 percent for street paving, for a total of $122,000 to improve streets.

Clark said the city will only be able to pave 1.8 miles.

He said if streets are not repaved in a timely fashion, it causes damage and destroys the road bed, which will cause more work and cost more money later on.

“You do as much with as little as possible,” Mayor Troy Beets said commending Clark.

The fire department is receiving new equipment, new fire hydrants and additional per-sonnel.

Chief Willie Gordon had hoped for a new fire station.

“I’m not asking for anything, the budget is what it is,” Gordon said.

The police department will be lease-purchasing four new police cars; two in July 2008 and two in March 2009.

Police Chief Jim Washam was hoping to gain a narcotics officer, which would cost the city $49,770.

The council has not included a new officer in the budget, but did talk about it at length.

Under parks and recreation, the most significant change is that Fort Southwest Point and safety will no longer be separate departments but will operate under parks and recreation.

Council also looked at ways to generate more revenue to fund projects.

One idea was to increase the garbage rate for customers, which is currently $8.58 a month.

“People honestly said, ‘Raise my trash, I don’t care about that,’” Councilman Brant Wil-liams said.

“People see the value because they see their garbage being picked up,” Williams said.

The council agreed that it was a good idea and talked about possibly raising the fee to $10 a month.

Approval of the final budget must take place before July 1.