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Phillips: Kingsport BMA poised to raise taxes, establish trash fee unless public has strong objections

May 21st, 2014 12:31 am by Matthew Lane

Phillips: Kingsport BMA poised to raise taxes, establish trash fee unless public has strong objections

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KINGSPORT — Mayor Dennis Phillips says if anyone in Kingsport has strong opinions about property taxes going up four cents and the creation of a new $5-a-month garbage fee to let the Board of Mayor and Aldermen know.

Otherwise, that's what the BMA is going to approve next month to balance the city's 2015 budget.

Kingsport is facing a $2.3 million shortfall in its 2015 budget. The BMA held budget meetings last week to go over options for balancing the budget, including making additional cuts, increasing property taxes, enacting a new garbage collection fee, along with layoffs and salary freezes.

After going back and forth with different scenarios, the BMA informally agreed to cut an additional $1.4 million from the general fund (which includes eliminating six positions), raise the property tax rate by four cents and create a new solid waste fee of $5 a month.

The proposal takes $240,000 from the city's fleet fund (money used to purchase new vehicles), eliminates step raises for employees (but does include a 1 percent across the board raise) and leaves six open positions vacant.

Not only does the proposal wipe out the shortfall, it creates $909,000 in additional revenue, of which $756,000 has already been earmarked for debt service for an upcoming bond issuance, leaving $153,000 unallocated.

As with most of the original budget fixes, this proposal does not include any additional funds for Kingsport City Schools, which has requested $775,000 in additional operating funds and $750,000 for new computers.

A nine-cent increase on the property tax rate would cover the school system's request.

During Monday's work session, the BMA hinted at giving the $153,000 to KCS, but at the same time challenged the school system to go back to see what additional cuts to its budget could be made.

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

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