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MJ allocates funds for animal control
Jul 04, 2006 12:00 am
June 27, 2006 MT. JULIET — For the first time in city history, city commissioners unanimously passed the proposed city budget on second reading, a move that nodded a 2006-07 $9.8 million general fund budget that includes nearly a half million dollars for an animal control facility and robust raises.
Mt. Juliet Mayor Linda Elam described the unanimous vote of the highest dollar budget in the city's history as a move that should "stop the world on its axis."
Incorporated in the nearly $10 million general fund budget were allocations to buy land and construct, staff and operate an animal control facility on Curd Road. Commissioners agreed to pay $300,000 for four acres with the stipulation of selling two acres for $150,000. More than $210,000 would be used for personnel to run the facility and $80,400 to operate it annually.
In the capital funds portion of the budget, commissioners allocated a one-time appropriation of $533,000 to construct the facility.
Late last year, a long-standing partnership with Lebanon for shared animal control services was severed after an incident involving Mt. Juliet dog caused Lebanon to be subjected to a lawsuit.
Along with a new city service and facility, city employees will see new monies flow their way as the budget incorporated a hefty wage increase. All 100 city employees will receive almost 11-percent hike in pay, marking a significant personnel cost increase.
"Last year, personnel costs were budgeted at $2.9 million, and this year we've proposed $3.9 million for this allocation," Shearer said.
Commissioners in May approved an immediate 3-percent raise across the board and voted in July to pay employees' 5-percent retirement contributions. Employees will also realize a 3-percent cost of living increase.
The budget passed Monday was also adjusted to hire nine new police department officials. July 1 will be the start date for all new hires, instead of staggering half of them to mid-year hires.
While on the table, the budget was boosted by $750,000 to extend sewer to a group of homes in the Page Drive area and the budget knife cut $200,000 for Mundy Park improvements. Also nixed by squires was an administrative position requested for the city manager's department and a proposed vehicle purchase for economic development director Kenneth Martin.
The approved budget includes $2.4 million in capital building projects. In addition to the animal control facility appropriation, $1.6 million is allocated for road projects and $152,000 for one-time police department expenditures.
The rest of the money is split between parks projects, city building improvements and GIS.
The city's police budget is the largest with $2.8 million appropriated in personnel costs. That's $800,000 more than last year. Shearer stated the increase is attributed in part to nine new positions and wage increases. The non salary portion of the police budget allocates $418, 568 in operating costs.
The only tweaking for second reading was to grants. Because the Mt. Juliet Help Center may shut down in a few weeks, the $2,500 grant request for the nonprofit was tabled, subject to reinstatement later. More money was allocated to the city's sports programs to upgrade bathrooms at Mt. Juliet Little League Park.
Lastly, commissioners reworded a section of the budget leaving open a previous ratio formula that tied personnel costs to revenue. Elam said she would consult the Municipal Technical Advisory Service to work out an appropriate formula for next year's budget.
Shearer noted the city can expect an estimated $2 million more – up to about $9.4 million – in sales tax revenues from last year.
The budget will take effect July 1. Mt. Juliet's property tax rate is set at zero.
Mt. Juliet Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.