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Nick Shepherd

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Bluff City BMA discusses tough budget decisions

May 20th, 2014 11:06 pm by Nick Shepherd

Bluff City BMA discusses tough budget decisions

BLUFF CITY — Bluff City residents could take a real punch to the wallet this year and possibly lose the services of a police officer.

Members of the Bluff City Board of Mayor and Aldermen gathered to discuss how to fix the budget for the upcoming fiscal year on Monday.

"We've kind of seen this has been coming," City Manager Judy Dulaney told the board members.

Bluff City would almost break even in the general fund, but the general fund balance has been all but depleted.

Total projected expenditures for fiscal year 2015 would be approximately $1.55 million. Total projected revenue for 2015 is $1.4 million, leaving Bluff City with a negative balance of $146,617.

The state also wants Bluff City to increase its fund balance. Over the course of five years, the fund balance has dropped by $596,719.

Dulaney said she couldn't find any money for the Bluff City volunteer fire department in the proposed 2015 budget. The fire department had received $10,000 the year before.

There was also no money marked for the senior citizens center, Second Harvest Food Bank, Bluff City Library, Bluff City Community Chest, Bluff City Rescue Squad or the children's advocacy center, all of which received funding from the city last year.

Some of the options BMA members discussed to balance the budget include raising property taxes, laying off a police officer, raising the fee for trash pickup and cutting an office position down to part time.

Bluff City would receive $2,777 per penny raised on property taxes. A 25-cent property tax hike was discussed, which would raise $69,425.

If one police officer was let go, the city would save $53,954.26, which includes the benefits such as health insurance and retirement.

If a person in the office was reduced to part time, it would translate to $18,800.92 in savings.

The board members also discussed a $1.50 raise in garbage collection fees, which would add another $15,000.

Those four actions would add up to $157,180, which would put the city in the black by $10,563.

No official action on the budget can be taken until at least the June 12 BMA meeting.

One thing that is definitely happening is a 45 percent increase in water bills over the next three years, with the price increasing 15 percent every year. The reason for the increase is so the city can get out from under the waste water and management board.

BMA members are not taking the cuts lightly and more than one member did not appear happy to even be considering cutting paid employees.

Dulaney said she doesn't know what else to do.

"It's serious," she said.

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