Mount Carmel approves budget without funding increase for senior center

Jeff Bobo • Jun 26, 2013 at 10:18 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — As the beginning of the 2013-14 fiscal year approaches Mount Carmel Senior Center Director Wanda Davidson is concerned that she won’t have a balanced budget to present to the state.

Tuesday evening the Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the second and final reading of its 2013-14 fiscal year budget by a vote of 5-1.

To maintain the same $1.38 property tax rate that budget will utilize $153,000 in leftover funds from the 2012-13 fiscal year.

If there isn’t enough left from 2012-13, the balance of the deficit will be covered from Mount Carmel’s estimated $2.3 million in reserve funds.

The only “no” vote was cast by Davidson, who is also an alderman.

Mount Carmel’s annual contribution to the senior center will be $36,000 in 2013-14. That’s the same level as was approved in the 2012-13 budget, although the town under former Mayor Gary Lawson did give the center a one-time additional $3,500 stipend last fall to offset a funding shortfall.

Davidson told the Times-News earlier this month that the senior center’s proposed 2013-14 budget is $7,000 short. She was asking the BMA for a $3,500 increase, as well as another $1,000 increase which would have left her another $2,500 still to raise.

That increase for the senior center was not approved, however.

“I can’t operate on the same amount of money every year,” Davidson told the board prior to the final budget vote Tuesday. “I can’t send a budget to the state that’s not balanced. ... In order for us to operate that money has to come from somewhere. Most cities do support their senior centers.”

Vice Mayor Paul Hale commended the city employees and department heads for their assistance in the budget process. Hale noted that the board asked city department heads to cut 10 percent from their budgets, and he said each one of them exceeded that 10 percent.

Hale also wanted to clarify that — contrary to what some people may believe — there was no cut to the annual senior center contribution.

“The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will continue to support the senior center any way we can, but this was a year of cutting what we could, and we didn’t cut the senior citizens any,” Hale added. “Of course we didn’t increase their amount, but we didn’t cut them either.”

Alderman Francis Frost noted that the town pays the center’s electric bill. She said the town’s contribution to the senior center is “not just the donation.”

Mayor Larry Frost added that the city pays the water and sewer bills as well, and maintains the facility.

“We do support our senior citizens and as long as I’m here we will continue to support our senior citizens,” Mayor Frost said.

Prior to the vote Frost outlined some of the other highlights of the budget.

“We’re planning to buy a tractor with a boom mower,” Mayor Frost said. “You all are quite aware of what’s going on with the mowing situation. We’ve had a tractor broke down for three weeks. We thought we had it repaired three times and it didn’t work.”

Mayor Frost added, “The second item is replace the roof at our public works building, buy some new bunker gear for our firefighters and place a new antenna on the radio tower. Once we see how much money is left over on this year’s (2012-13) budget we’ll be looking to get some paving done.”

In other business Tuesday the BMA:

•Welcomed new East Hawkins County Joint Recreation Director Tim Wilson to his position. Wilson will direct the joint recreation activities of Mount Carmel, Church Hill and Surgoinsville.

Wilson’s office is located at Church Hill City Hall and he can be reached during business hours by calling 357-7010 or 358-8162. He is a native of Andrews, S.C., and earned a bachelor in sports management degree with a minor in business administration from Virginia Intermont College earlier this year.

•Approved the annual lease agreement with the Mount Carmel Senior Center, which is located on the second floor of City Hall, for the 2013-14 fiscal year for $1 per month, or $12 per year.

•Agreed to declare a 1997 Ford F-350 flatbed truck a surplus and sell it to the Hawkins County Highway Department for $9,500. Mayor Frost said that was one of two trucks replaced in the Public Works Department earlier this year. The other truck was transferred to the sewer department.

•Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance regulating “fortunetellers, clairvoyants, and similar pursuits” that operate as businesses in the city. Among the new regulations, those type business owners will be required to apply for a special permit and submit to a background check of themselves and employees.

•Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance repealing a five-year deadline for subdivision developers to collect a “System User Fee” credit of up to $2,000 from the city for installing a sewer tap. The credit will be awarded when the sewer service is connected.

•Heard a report from Mayor Frost that the annual downtown Block Party will be Saturday, July 6, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

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