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Spray park, utility costs and tourism top City budget discussion

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Mayor: (Tourism) has got to be done

By Chris Hamilton

Increased utility costs, a potential spray park project and the need for tourism promotion gave an otherwise perfunctory budget discussion a shot in the arm during the Lawrenceburg City Council Finance Committee meeting Monday of last week.

The City will be making a second attempt to secure a $75,000 Land & Water Conservation Grant to offset the $140,000 price tag for a proposed spray park at Legion Park, increased rates drove up water and sewer utilities by nearly $60,000 over last year’s projections and finding a way to have a sustained tourism program for Lawrenceburg and Anderson County has become a priority.

Water and Sewer

The proposed budget reflects total revenue of $9.7 million, the majority of which will come from water and sewer sales, services and carryover.

Water and sewer also accounts for the largest expenditures – nearly $4 million – in the proposal, including nearly a half million in sewer utilities, up $30,000 from fiscal year 2013-14. Water utilities costs are projected at just under $200,000, up $27,000 from the current fiscal year.

Water and sewer salaries take up $1.3 million.

The City currently has 54 lift stations and $1.5 million in debt on the water and sewer plants. An additional $300,000 was included for ongoing work to sewer line rehabilitation projects and water line replacement.

Tourism and Economic Development

Under a tourism/economic development line item, $100,000 was written in to cover promotions, capital outlay, training and salaries and benefits.

“I will be calling all councilmen to set up a work session to discuss tourism and economic development,” said Mayor Edwinna Baker. “I want to present to Council the proper way to do it. I don’t want to set us up for failure. If we’re going to do it, we need to do it right, from the start. This has got to be done.”

Emergency Management and Cemetery

Emergency Management - $12,600 – and Cemetery - $259,500 – budgets were “almost exactly the same as this year, except for insurance, which has gone up,” said City Treasurer Judy Russell.

Under Emergency Management, $6,000 was included for Emergency Management Director Bart Powell’s salary. However, Powell has indicated that he would like deputy directors Mike Barnes and Bobby Hume to each received 25 percent of that pay. Also included was a contribution to a joint effort with Anderson County Fiscal Court to install an early warning siren in front of Robert B. Turner Elementary School.

The Cemetery line item includes salaries - $151,000 - and benefits, vehicle repair and capital outlay - $13,000.

Street Department

Russell said the Street Department’s budget was similar to the current one. It includes the second payment - $30,100 – of a 5-year lease to own contact on a street sweeper.

The Street Department’s $449,000 budget includes $126,000 for salaries, $123,000 for utilities and $18,000 for vehicle repairs and maintenance.

Fire Department

Like some of the others, “This budget is basically the same,” Russell said.

Included in this $123,000 line item is $45,000 for salaries, of which Chief Bobby Hume is currently paid $15,849.31. The rest is used to pay volunteers for runs, starting at $7.40 per hour – one-half hour minimum for runs – and increasing based on experience.

This line item included $3,000 for travel and training, $22,000 for capital outlay and $7,300 for vehicle repair.

Police Department

One of the largest line items in the overall budget, the $1.9 million proposed for law enforcement includes more than $1.5 million for salaries and benefits.

The police budget also has $99,000 dedicated to insurance with $150,000 for capital outlay, $10,000 for uniforms/clothing allowance and $6,000 for travel and training.

The police department will be replacing three cruisers with more than 100,000 miles on them and purchase of a vehicle for Lt. Mike Shell, who is second in command to Chief Chris Atkins.

Lawrenceburg City Clerk Administrator Robbie Hume said police cruisers are typically kept in service for 10 years or approximately 100,000 miles.

The City budget includes revenue of $20,000 for police evidence. According to Russell, this is a new revenue source, whereby people charged with a crime pay a fee up front. If they are found not guilty, the fee is returned. If they are found guilty, the City gets to keep the majority with a portion going to the state.

Russell said the City had some of this revenue not budgeted for during the current fiscal year but is budgeting for it in FY 2014-15.

General & Administrative

Of the $870,830 included in the General and Administrative line item, $63,000 is for legal and professional fees, of which $30,000 will pay the Property Valuation Administrator for tax assessment and the rest is contingent upon the use of Attorney Linda Ain for negotiations with Comcast, which bought Time Warner Cable earlier this year, and other service providers.

A code enforcement expense of $25,000 was projected in case the City has to condemn some properties, particularly a few on Woodford Street.

Baker said a lien has already been filed on one Woodford property.

Councilman George Geoghegan asked if the “Kavanaugh gym” was a potential problem but Hume said only if there are complaints. The building is behind the former Kavanaugh House bed & breakfast. The building behind it was the gym when the property was a Naval prep school in the 1880s.

The line item includes $26,000 for the Senior Citizens Building, which the city owns and maintains. It returns $9,000 annually by way of rent. Baker said the rental contract could not be re-visited because it was a 48-year contract put in place during former Mayor Bob Thompson’s term.

There is $87,000 included for capital outlay, which includes $50,000 for playground equipment at Legion Park.

The animal shelter has $3,000 allocated and Parks & Recreation will receive $43,000

General Fund

The City reduced its projection for building permits from $8,000 to $6,000.

“New buildings are almost non-existent,” Russell said.

Golf cart licenses are expected to generate $100 if 10 are sold, like this current fiscal year. A Lawrenceburg ordinance allows golf carts on city streets with this license.

Salary increases are 2 percent across the board for city workers.

Baker and City councilmen will receive a 1.5 percent increase for cost of living, a figure determined by the state. Council members earn $389 per month and Baker will have been paid $31,181.02 during the current fiscal year.

Health insurance will increase “roughly 15 percent,” said Russell.

Finance Committee member Larry Hazlett, the City’s public works director, was absent.