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Lebanon City Council passes first budget vote

By Sara McManamy-Johnson sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated May 20, 2014 at 11:47 PM

Lebanon City Council approved the first of three readings for the city’s annual budget during council's regular meeting Tuesday.

The vote was met with little discussion, although council member Lanny Jewell cited concerns about the city’s long-range financial status.

“I’ve got a few concerns over where we may be at next year…bonding roads, borrowing for fire halls and things,” said Jewell. “It falls back on us to find the means to come up with the revenues.”

Robert Springer, the city’s commissioner of finance and revenues, said the debt service for the fire hall would not have a significant impact on the city’s future budget. 

“Putting bodies in there, that is where your issue is going to be at, not the debt service,” said Springer. 

Jewell said he’d like more information about what the planned projects would cost over the long term.

Kathy Warmath noted that the budget “is still a little bit in flux” because council still plans to meet in one or two more work sessions to discuss specific personnel plans. Councilors had previously opted to move forward with the preliminary votes on the budget to ensure they passed a final budget before the state’s July 1 deadline.

Because council plans to meet in those work sessions, councilors opted to defer votes on two new positions that were originally scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting.

Councilors were due to consider authorizing a new human resources director position and a new economic development director position.

“I’d kind of like to see if there’s any way to combine [positions],” said Warmath of the human resources director position. “I want to make sure that we get off on the right foot.”

Jewell said he’d also like to look at pay scales and specifically how they would relate to candidates’ qualifications.

“There’s all kinds of options there [regarding degrees and experience],” said Jewell. “If we’re going in with somebody that maybe doesn’t have all those qualifications, we look at not doing the full salary until they come in complete.”

Springer said the work sessions would be scheduled for sometime in June, although the dates are not finalized yet.

Councilors also approved the first reading of an agreement with the Wilson County Board of Education regarding back payments of liquor taxes owed to the school system. Under the terms of the agreement, the city would pay the school system 10 annual payments of $81,121.52. The final amount, $811,215.25, represents taxes that due from July 1, 1999 through Sept. 2013.

Councilors also approved resolution that, among other things, allows either the mayor or the majority of council to terminate department heads.

Previously, the mayor and at least four councilors had to approve terminating any department heads. However, with the new change, the mayor could terminate a department head without council approval or vice versa.

“I really don’t think that any mayor, who is chief executive of the city, should have to get our permission to remove a department head,” said councilor Rob Cesternino.

In other business, council approved the following items:

• Increasing insurance coverage on city utilities.

• A contract with Nashville and Eastern Railroad Corporation for flood mitigation and drainage improvements.

• Buying fireworks for various city-sponsored events, including the July 4 celebration, CABA World Series and Veterans Day.

• Bids for the resurfacing, restoration and rehabilitation improvements of various roads in Lebanon.

• Entering into an agreement for construction engineering inspection for resurfacing, restoration and rehabilitation improvements of various city roads.

• A 2014 natural gas leak survey.

• Hiring AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. for engineering services for a flood study at the wastewater treatment plant.

• Amending the city’s Major Thoroughfare Plan by changing the Holloway Drive/Briskin Lane Connection to a Legends Drive/Briskin Lane Connection.

• Incorporating the new purchasing limit into the Accounting Policies and Procedures Manual.

• Accepting partial payments for property taxes.

• Entering into a contract with TDOT for improvements associated with the Lebanon Square Safety Project.

• Changing the city’s zoning ordinance to exempt the central business district from requirements for landscaping, screening, buggering, on-site parking and on-site drainage detention.

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