Red Bank Budget Includes No Tax Increase, Projected Deficit

  • Wednesday, May 22, 2024
  • Gail Perry

The city of Red Bank has passed the proposed fiscal year 2025 budget on the first of two readings, with no property tax increase. The rate will remain at $1.67 per every $100 of the assessed value of a property. Despite a large increase in property taxes in 2024, the city is still behind, and that concerns Commissioner Jamie Fairbanks Harvey, who was the only vote in opposition to passing the proposed budget.

The city has seven individual funds, and the General Fund is what property taxes support. And this fund supports the city’s operations, such as the court, the commission, finance and administration, community development, fire, police and public works. Capital projects, with high costs, such as large, costly equipment and TDOT road projects, are also in the general fund. The general fund budget is clouded by the inclusion of capital projects, which City Manager Martin Granum said creates the valleys. He said that operations expenses in the city are stable and said that the large costs associated with multiple TDOT projects and expensive equipment has created an almost $1 million deficit. But he said that money has not actually been spent yet, which will come, as the projects move forward. Having those large expenses that are not yet used in the general fund balance makes it cloudy, he said. That is the reason Mr. Granum is recommending to establish a separate Capital Projects plan and stand-alone budget.To fund the large investment of six police cruisers this year, the city will need to borrow the money.

For projects funded by TDOT, the state will pay 80 percent of the cost and the city is responsible for 20 percent of that total. Money from TDOT for the projects are paid to the city on a reimbursement basis. So the city has to pay TDOT’s share of 80 percent upfront. Ultimately it will be paid back, but when that will be is unknown. Red Bank is able to do these projects because it has the healthy amount of over $7 million in its fund balance, said the city manager.

The numbers that are included in the 2024 budget for the large equipment purchases such as firetrucks and property and big TDOT capital projects are not what has actually been spent, because only preliminary work has been done so far, said Public Works Director Greg Tate. Those are the projected costs, he said. The amount actually spent in 2024 has been $121,000 while the budget shows a deficit of $900,000, he said. City Manager Granum also said that the numbers in the most current version of the budget dated May 16, 2024 are not final and he expects to see a larger deficit when they are. The second and final vote for the 2025 budget will be at the commission meeting on June 4.

The Joe Glasscock Community Center will be getting a new unisex outdoor restroom that will be open even when the community center is closed. It will be built at the far edge of the playground and will be climate controlled, have ADA options and changing tables for children and adults. The cost for the 12x10 building will be $155,962. Public Works Director Tate said that seems expensive, but the prices continue to go up. The first estimate the city receive was $96,000 a year ago. That work was approved by the commissioners for the amount of $62,496, and using a pre-fab building was even more expensive.

A connecting sidewalk and a pedestrian crosswalk in the vicinity of 701 East Midvale Ave. will be built to connect the existing sidewalk at White Oak Park to the Stringers Ridge Connector Trail entrance. 

Another $29,572 was approved to pay EPB for repairs to lighting on Highway 27 that is located in the city limits, specifically where Signal Mountain Road and Red Bak Road intersect the highway. The city is responsible for maintaining street lighting.

Another expenditure that was approved is for an agreement with “First Arriving” for supplemental information to the fire departments. There will be an initial cost of $2,348, with an annual recurring cost of $1,598. This service provides digital signs for both fire stations that will display messages and information such as the staffing on duty, reminders, weather information and the location of incoming calls.

On the first reading, a wooded lot at 309 Morrison Springs Road was rezoned from R-1A Residential to C-2 Commercial. It is across Morrison Springs from Lamar Avenue. Opposition to the change to a commercial zone came from a citizen who said the intersection of Morrison Springs Road and Lamar Ave. is already too busy and dangerous. The owners plan to build a liquor store there which will be moving from the old Dollar General Plaza. Most of the commissioners agreed and plan to have a traffic study done for calming the traffic along Morrison Springs. But the rezoning was approved nevertheless with only Commissioner Harvey voting in opposition.

Announcements include that the first Red Bank community movie will be on Friday, May 24, and the pool will open on that same day. The small area study for the property on Morrison Springs Road, where the former middle school was, is still on the city’s website. The deadline to participate in the survey is May 31. The Trust for Public Land will hold a series of work sessions at White Oak Park to pant trees, and build benches on June 1, 8 and 15.

The next commission meeting will be on Tuesday, June 4, when the second and final reading will be held on the budget..

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