"It has been a most difficult budget," Mayor Dennis Phillips said at the end of Tuesday's BMA meeting. "It brought people out of the woodwork with an opinion about it. The bottom line is starting today, we've got to move forward. The bickering about the budget should be over."
This year's budget process seemingly went on forever as the BMA and city staff wrestled with ways to close a $2.3 million shortfall in the 2015 budget, with options such as making additional cuts, increasing property taxes, creating a new garbage fee, layoffs and salary freezes.
For a time, the BMA considered a so-called "balanced approach" with a four-cent property tax hike and creating a new $5 a month garbage collection fee. However, the idea was quickly scuttled after an overwhelming negative response from the community.
Instead, city leaders ultimately decided to go with just a property tax increase — a move that proves to be cheaper for a majority of the homeowners in town. With a 13-cent property tax increase, the average Kingsport homeowner (with a $140,000 house) will see property taxes increase by $46 next year.
Tuesday's vote on the 2015 budget did not come without some dissension in the ranks.
For an expanded version of this article, please see Wednesday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.