In the final study session on the city’s budget for the next fiscal year, City Administrator Jennifer Moody outlined the assumed costs for the coming fiscal year.

Among the items Moody has already outlined for the city’s upcoming budget draft are a step raise and a 2% cost of living adjustment, as well as a 7% increase for the city’s self-funded health insurance program.

Other budget assumptions, Moody said, are the continued funding of certain city programs, such as Get Fit! Tullahoma, Go Green! Tullahoma, the Cool & Connected Downtown free public Wi-Fi and various outside agencies.

 

Anticipated costs

When it comes to personnel costs, Moody said there have been nine new positions requested through the various city departments, including seven new full-time positions and two new part-time positions.

Information technology (IT) costs are also something the city will need to prepare for, according to Moody.

“We’re talked a lot about upgrading our infrastructure,” she said, “so that we can be more efficient and provide our services better.”

Moody said multiple employees have been requesting IT hardware and software upgrades for a long time, including a total system overhaul to Windows 10 in order to keep everyone on the same page.

Additional operational costs are also seeing increases for the next fiscal year, Moody said.

“Just the cost of operations, just like any other business, sometimes costs go up year to year,” she said. Items such as printer maintenance, fuel expenses and road and sidewalk repairs are consistently rising, Moody said as an example.

Moody also suggested to the board that it look at increasing the animal control medical budget in the coming year, in order for the new animal care and control facility to better care for the dogs in its care.

A big upgrade the city will look at will be upgrading emergency equipment for the police and fire departments.

Both the police and fire departments, Moody said, are looking to replace their radios from analog-only to an analog/digital combination, which will better increase communication between emergency services.

 

Department requests

In her presentation, Moody gave a broad overview of the total funding requests from the city departments, as well as what the city could realistically provide in the coming year.

According to Moody, between the personnel requests, equipment replacements and additions, operational expenses and new projects or programs, the city’s departments requested more than $1.5 million worth of assistance for the next year.

That total includes $580,800 for new equipment, $534,063 for personnel costs and $97,186 in “operational expense items,” according to Moody.

Despite the lofty requests, Moody said the city could realistically anticipate spending a little over $600,000 on the requested items.

The first draft budget, according to Moody, only includes $217,991 in personnel costs and only $135,350 for equipment additions.

The reason for this, Moody explained, was due to other budget assumptions, including the compensation and health insurance plans added expenses. Moody outlined those two expenses would equal about $313,000. Between those two expenses and a modest funding of the city department requests, that portion of the budget would total $925,427.

 

Capital projects overview

Moody also gave an update on numerous city capital projects and how they might possibly impact the FY20 budget.

While several of the projects, including the building of a new animal shelter, the new street light in front of Publix and the first phase of the “Light Up South Jackson” project, are completed, some items will carry over into the next fiscal year, such as the second phase of the South Jackson Civic Center improvements and the new park to be constructed on Silver Street.

Additional capital projects under consideration for the next fiscal year include the installation of sidewalks on Ovoca Road and Kings Lane, a $325,000 project; an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan, which is estimated at $100,000; and the second phase of the “Light Up South Jackson” project, which is estimated at $150,000, and includes a $75,000 grant the city has applied for.

Other projects that don’t yet have estimated costs are the Ovoca Road traffic improvements project(s), the North Jackson Streetscape implementation, the Tennessee Downtowns program and other city facility/building maintenance.

The city is required to have three readings of the budget, per state law.

The board will have its first reading of the draft budget at a June 3 special called meeting. The second and third readings will take place on June 10 and 24.

Erin McCullough may be reached at emccullough@tullahomanews.com.