Loudon City Council goes ahead with budget

Vicky Newman-News-Herald

Loudon City Council on Monday found it necessary to proceed with a budget for 2013 without a certified tax rate.

The certified tax rate had been set for adoption Monday as well, but the figures did not come in from the state tax assessors office in time.

The preliminary tax rate had been $1.1799 per $100 of assessed value, which is an increase from the $1.09 rate of last year.

The rate reflects a loss of appraised value in real property, City Manager Lynn Mills said. Reappraisal was affecting the state's figures.

Tax revenues are needed to fund about $3.1 million of the city's total $6.5 million budget, Mills said.

Council members did adopt the proposed budget Monday after a public hearing garnered no opposition.

The budget includes a 1 percent salary increase for full-time city workers. It includes $151,000 in the general fund budget, plus $91,000 to pave Main Street and Grove Street, reimbursed from the Garney Inc., water line installation contractor.

The budget is based on the certified tax rate, but Mills said the budget could be amended later as additional information is obtained.

The certified tax rate must be set by Aug. 1. The outcome of property appraisal appeals from industries Tate & Lyle and Kimberly-Clark are slated to be heard by a judge in September.

Council had planned to work toward a new city hall building, but major capital improvements projects have been placed on hold until the tax revenue issues are settled, Mills said.

"This cloud is hanging over our budget until at least August or September," Mills said. The certified tax rate should be coming in "any day now," Mills said for adoption in June.

The council also approved a request by Police Chief James "Bear" Webb for the purchase of 10 cameras at $800 each. The cameras can be mounted on vehicle dashboards or clipped to the officer's uniform.

Councilwoman Judy Jones cast the only dissenting vote.

Councilman Jimmy Parks voiced support for the cameras. "I think they are a good idea, but I didn't really like the video that was demonstrated."

City Attorney Joe Ford weighed in on the discussion. "This is good for the city, crucial from the city's standpoint," Ford said. "The video clears up all questions."

In other business, council voted to allow Ford to negotiate for the bond of Hampton Place subdivision developers.

Ford asked to be allowed to accept $38,290 or more from Cincinnati Insurance, the bonding company. He said he would attempt to get the bonder to pay for street light installation.

Councilman Lynn Millsaps said he did not think the $38,290 was adequate compensation. "None of this was our fault," Millsaps said. "The project was not completed."

Council members were told that the new pool house at Loudon Municipal Park would open Saturday.

"It's right on time," Mark Harrell, parks and recreation director, said.