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Nashville Council reviews annual budget

Nashville's Town Council met on Friday for an all-day retreat, highlighting revenues and expenditures for the current year as well as for the upcoming fiscal year.

The retreat was held for council members to offer additional input for the upcoming 2017-2018 budget. The board held its first retreat in February.

Town Manager Henry Raper went over revenues with the council, providing figures for the current fiscal year as well as a budgeted figure for the upcoming fiscal year, a projected figure for the upcoming fiscal year and a forecasted figure for 2018.

Some areas of revenues were unchanged while others experienced a decline and some disappeared completely.

Raper said property taxes would be budgeted at close to $1.8 million for the upcoming fiscal year, which was a decrease from the current budget year. However, Raper said the projected figure is a little higher.

Raper said the loss of privilege license fees for the town was a hard hit for many municipalities, including Nashville.

"That hit pretty hard," he said.

In 2015, the town received $49,000 from privilege license fees.

To make up for some of the revenue, and to be able to keep up with businesses in town, the town implemented a business license fee. Raper said the town had no idea what to budget at first because it was a new item but had budgeted $5,000. However, Raper said that figure looks to be much lower, coming in at around $2,800.

The town also increased its automobile sticker fees to increase its revenues. That increase brought in an additional $31,500 for the town.

A municipal service district tax was also added and those revenues will begin in the upcoming fiscal year. Raper said those revenues are anticipated to be $32,000.

"It's more money than we anticipated," he said.

However, he added, those monies can only be used to benefit the district which pays into it.

Raper also went over expenditures for each department in town. Raper said personnel line items would change in the upcoming budget with the implementation of a pay study conducted in-house.

A new position was one item discussed. Raper is suggesting a Deputy Town Clerk/Personnel Technician be added.

In addition to the additional salary expense, the new position would require, which would be an added expense.

Councilwoman Louise Hinton questioned whether purchasing new software for human resources could eliminate the need for another person.

Raper said the software out there was expensive and would cost more than a position.

"But this yearly," Hinton said of the new position.

"There's not a good software out there that does what we need it to do," Raper said. "It just doesn't exist."

"The best thing out there for us is what we have," he added.

Raper said he wasn't going to recommend purchasing new software in the upcoming budget year. Instead, he wanted to continue researching to find something that would work for the town. And, he added, ultimately the decision on the new position was up to the board.

"Just because we budget something doesn't mean it needs to be spent," he said.

The fire department was another item of conversation for council.

Raper said a new fire engine needed to be a priority, not for the upcoming budget year but for the 2018-2019 year.

Raper said he would like to take half of the anticipated $525,000 cost and put it in a reserve fund so the town would only have to come up with half the funds for the new engine.

"That's a big hit in one year to pay cash for," he said.

There was some discussion over whether to keep the engine it would replace or sell it. But more conversations would have to be held between now and the budget discussions for the 2018-2019 year.

"I think we need a plan of action for how this is going to play out," Raper said. "But we don't have one yet."

Raper also went over non-departmental contributions. Several have asked for increases in their contributions from the town.

The Boys and Girls Club is requesting $10,000. The town typically contributes $5,500.

The Community Building requested $1,927. The town has not been giving anything towards the community building. Instead, the town pays the utility bill, Raper said.

Council members said they wanted more information on both the Boys and Girls Club and the Community Building's request.

In addition the Carolina Gateway Partnership requested $10,000 more than they had been getting from the town in the past. Carolina Gateway is requested $30,000.

Council members said they didn't necessarily have an issue with the request but were hoping someone from the partnership could attend the retreat to discuss it. Council members said they were supposed to have three potential tenants for development on Cooke Road but have yet to hear anything on even one.

"We just want to see something for our money, that's all," Councilman Larry Taylor said.

Another meeting will be held on April 20 to finalize budget discussions before officially presenting the budget to the public.

The budget is typically presented in May during town council's regular meeting.

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