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Highlights of Kingsport's 2020 budget

Matthew Lane • May 19, 2019 at 8:48 AM

KINGSPORT — The city’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, is pretty cut and dried. There’s no property tax hike, residents will see a 3 percent increase in their water and sewer rates, and sales tax collections for the year are experiencing a modest bump from the previous year.

These were just some of the highlights from a recent work session where the Board of Mayor and Aldermen heard budget presentations from Kingsport City Schools, the Public Works Department and City Manager Jeff Fleming.

It was one of the shortest budget meetings in recent history, with city leaders expressing agreement over the proposed spending plan for 2020. The proposed budget requires two rounds of approval before it becomes official. Those votes are scheduled to take place on June 4 and June 18. If approved, the budget will go into effect July 1.

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

Fleming presented a balanced budget with no property tax increase, though he did note that more than $4 million in requests from city departments were removed from the budget in order to balance it.

Over the last five years, revenue in Kingsport has been relatively flat, which is why the city is taking a conservative approach to next year’s budget. So far this year, the Model City is seeing only a 1.4 percent increase in sales tax collections when compared to last year.

Through February, the city has collected nearly $12 million in sales tax revenue. For the next fiscal year, Kingsport is projecting just under $18 million in sales tax collections.

“It’s because of the uncertainty of inline versus online sales,” Fleming said, noting that 25 percent of Kingsport’s budget relies on sales taxes. “We did not assume there would be additional revenues (due to online sales tax legislation). Though we are eager to see what will happen with online sales, it’s too uncertain to predict.”

By the end of the current fiscal year, Kingsport will have nearly $14 million in its rainy day fund. Four years ago, the amount was $11.6 million.

WATER & SEWER

Over in the Public Works Department, Assistant City Manager for Operations Ryan McReynolds is recommending a 3 percent increase in the water rate for inside city customers and a 3 percent increase in the sewer rate for both inside and outside city customers.

For the average city resident using 3,600 gallons of water a month, the combined water/sewer bill would be just over $43 a month.

In addition to the fee hike, Public Works is recommending adding a third maintenance crew to its wastewater department.

CAPITAL PROJECTS

The total amount of debt rolling off the books next fiscal year is $17.4 million. When it comes to the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, about $8.4 million in debt is rolling off, with $7.68 million being added back for new projects and purchases.

Among those items on next year’s CIP are $3 million for improvements to the Justice Center, $1 million for school system facility maintenance, $400,000 for nature center improvements at Bays Mountain Park, $220,000 for improvements at the Lynn View Community Center and $350,000 for a new roof at MeadowView.

FAST FACTS ABOUT THE BUDGET

— Property tax rate of $1.975.

— General fund budget of $82.4 million.

— Rainy day fund of $13.9 million.

— Paving budget of $2.44 million.

— A 6 percent funding reduction to the Downtown Kingsport Association.

— A 2 percent step increase for employees.

- Total city debt for Fiscal Year 2020 will be $247.9 million.

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