Snead struggles with budget concerns on way to its approval

With considerable uncertainty in regard to future possible expenditures but at the recommendation of town clerk Rae Ware, Snead council members approved the proposed 2016 town budget.

Broken into five different categories, the budget totals over $2.2 million. The water department comprises the single largest category at $1,123,731, followed by the general fund at $1,002,942. The remaining three categories – sewer, park and recreation – and special revenue complete the total.

Water revenues lead the list of projected income sources at slightly over $1 million. Sales taxes place second at a bit over $500,000. Other sources above $20,000 are: court costs and fines ($139,122); business licenses ($95,325); real estate taxes ($63,940); one-cent gasoline tax ($56,650); sewer payments ($41,570); volunteer fire dues ($38,500) and water department interest income ($23,760).

Salaries, along with payroll taxes and retirement, represent the largest single expenditure totaling over $560,000. Other major expenses (over $50,000) listed are: purchased water ($203,196); water department loan repayments ($201,615); road repairs ($107,375); park and recreation capital outlay ($80,000), water department repair and maintenance ($63,300) and police capital outlay ($50,000).

With information that the town might use a lease-purchase option for park and recreation capital needs and in light of the absences of two councilmen, councilor Greg Ogles had suggested the council might delay approving the budget. Ware, however, suggested the council approve the proposal and amend it later, if needed.

Informed by police Chief Alan Hicks of his inability to obtain an APOST certified applicant for the town’s vacant full-time officer position, councilors agreed to pay the costs for reserve Matthew Smith to attend the police academy.

Members also agreed to begin his salary at an increased rate of $12 an hour. The council approved two others as reserves pending their passing of background checks and physical exams.

Related to the perceived need for new ball field poles and lights, utility department head Jeff Whited relayed a suggestion from town engineer Robert Nelson. Nelson had advised Whited of a lease-toown company, Musco Lighting, which would provide and service the lights for an extended loan period at 3 percent annual interest.

With councilors expressing interest, Whited agreed to pursue that option further and attempt to arrange a visit by a company representative to the council. Ware, Whited, and others expressed doubt that the previously proposed $100,000 would cover expenses to replace the lights and that the lease option might prove affordable.

Ware won approval to renew two town certificates of deposit at the prevailing rate with the present holder. She and they expressed some unhappiness at receiving an invoice for payment to the Blount County Economic Development Council. The town had previously donated but had not expected that action to result in future invoices. Members delayed action on the invoice.

Ware prepares the budget in line with past expenditures, any anticipated changes, and council directives. She emphasized before the final approval that councilors need to remember that budgeting at 97 or more percent of revenues leaves little room should unforeseen emergencies occur.

Prior to conducting any business, the council had heard from residents Fred LaRue and Gerry Lackey. The two had complaints over a local business blocking access to their residences on LaRue Drive.

The council had previously examined the matter presented by Mayor Curtis Painter. The two complainants detailed encounters they had had with workers at a lawnmower repair business and of possible outcomes. Painter ended the matter, promising that he and Chief Hicks would speak with the business owner about reaching an agreeable resolution.

Councilors Tim Kent and Charles Sanders missed the Sept. 28 meeting, attended by Painter, Ogles, and councilors Phillip McHan and Dale Snead. The council holds its regular sessions the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the town community center.