Red Bank continues budget talks, begins eliminating budget items

Red Bank continues budget talks, begins eliminating budget items

June 1st, 2011 by Katie Ward in Community Hixson

Red Bank Board of Commissioners and other city officials sit in a roundtable budget hearing May 24. Clockwise from left are Commissioner Greg Jones, Mayor Monty Millard, Commissioner Floy Pierce, City Recorder Ruthie Rohen, Commissioner Ruth Jeno and City Manager Chris Dorsey. Photo by Katie Ward

When Red Bank officials began their 2012 budget work session, they had already slashed $201,400 worth of services and still hoped to find $260,000 worth of cuts in order to avoid a property tax increase.

They succeeded, but only by cutting services in order to make up for stalling revenues from red light cameras and the financial strain of garbage and brush pickup.

"The people want us to either not raise property taxes or have the smallest tax raise possible," said Mayor Monty Millard. "We are public servants, we represent 11,600 residents and we try to make the best decisions for residents."

City Manager Chris Dorsey said that under a new state law beginning July 1 municipalities can no longer issue citations to motorists for failure to stop and make a right on red - 76 percent of city citations come from red light cameras and 24 percent of citations come from speed cameras, according to Dorsey. He is predicting losing about $77,000 in net red light camera revenue.

If the city loses money for three months straight, the contract can be broken and the cameras can be removed, he said.

After learning that, which puts the city approximately a total $340,000 in the hole, Millard made a motion to cut the 2 percent employee pay raises out of the budget, trimming $59,000. All three present commissioners reluctantly agreed. Commissioner John Roberts was absent.

Commissioners also voted in favor of eliminating the city codes officer position amounting to $43,000. Public Works Director Wayne Hamill told the board that the codes position is needed as well as brush pickup.

OFF THE TABLE

The following items have already been officially removed from the budget: $5,000 in contract services, $3,000 in bank service fees, $2,750 in computer equipment, $2,050 in computer software, $35,000 in worker's compensation, $7,000 for vehicles or equipment, $100,000 in debt service for City Hall, $10,600 for a part-time salary speed van, $18,000 for disposal of leaves and $18,000 for leaf machines.

Millard said the city is going in the hole by $119,000 each year due to garbage service pickup. He suggested raising the garbage fees and possibly eliminating $93,000 worth of brush pickup or cutting back brush pickup to once a quarter or twice per year.

City officials will continue discussing removal of brush pickup, eliminating some detective car purchases and eliminating a fire truck purchase. Officials will also continue talks of raising the garbage fees from $12 per month to $15 per month per can. The garbage fee raise would assist in funding brush pickup.

Red Bank Board of Commissioners may give the final vote on the fiscal year 2012 budget June 7 at 7 p.m. at Red Bank City Hall.