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Mayor Dennis Phillips: 'This is the worst year ever'

May 13th, 2014 9:39 pm by Matthew Lane

Mayor Dennis Phillips:  'This is the worst year ever'

KINGSPORT — Raising property taxes, establishing a garbage collection fee, laying off city employees and freezing pay for at least one year. Some or all of these actions may be taken by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to balance Kingsport's 2015 budget.

"This is the worst year ever," Mayor Dennis Phillips said during a Tuesday budget work session.

The BMA continued with the budget process Tuesday afternoon by going over four options for the city's budget, which is millions of dollars out of balance. City Manager John Campbell presented two options on Monday that involved a number of cuts, layoffs and salary freezes, along with a new $9-a-month garbage collection fee to offset a $2.3 million gap in the budget.

However, neither option offered any additional money for Kingsport City Schools. KCS has requested $775,000 in new operating funds and $750,000 to purchase new computers for students.

On Tuesday, Campbell and city finance staff presented four modified options to balance the city's budget.

Option 1 imposes the $9 garbage fee (generating $2.2 million) and would allow the city to fill some proposed positions in police, fire and public works. It would provide no additional money for schools, though.

Option 2 also has the $9 garbage fee, a 10 percent cut to special programs and city staff finding an additional $120,000 within the budget. And again, no money for schools.

Option 3 goes with a $7 garbage fee, a four-cent property tax hike and some money for schools.

Option 4 does not have a garbage fee, a two-cent property tax increase and the elimination of 23 employees, no salary increases and cuts $200,000 from the city's $750,000 paving allocation.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Wednesday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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