Middlesboro adopts budget for FY 2019-2020

Published 1:51 pm Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Middlesboro City Council approved the budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year that runs from July 1 through June 30, 2020. The resolution for the budget was introduced to the council by council lady Glynna Brown for the consideration and approval.

“I have two questions, I apologize that I wasn’t here to ask them last week,” councilman Bo Green said. “On the total revenues, it increased $200,000 from the last finance meeting, and that is the difference between the cash balance which was shown at $104 and now it’s $304, is that correct?”

“It is correct,” Middlesboro Mayor Rick Nelson responded. “Of course the cash balance goes up and down according to what day it is. We wanted to be as accurate as we could, so we put the actual number in there.”

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“Well $200,000, that’s good to have,” Green replied.

“It is but it’s gone already,” Nelson replied as the audience laughed. “It’s already been spent, but I felt we needed to be accurate with that.”

Following a roll call by the clerk, all city council members voted to approve the fiscal budget for 2019 through 2020 for the city.

Nelson wanted to reiterate that he feels that the budget is doing better.

“I think we are doing better with our overall budget than we were,” he said. “We are paying our bills a lot better, and we are getting some of our bills paid off. We are making an effort to do a lot better job. The biggest issue we have is cash flow.”

He said if the city had all $10 million in on Jan. 1 that the city would be great.

“We have enormous pension payments and the income tax and sometimes we get behind a month and have to pay a penalty because we don’t have that $200,000 or $300,000 to pull out of the bank,” he explained. “I wish we did but we don’t. We are doing better I think and I’m cautiously optimistic.”

The mayor said there are four challenges the city is facing.

“First of all, we are going to have to come up with $120,000 for an audit. We are going to have to come up with $60,000 extra for pension because obligations have gone up. We are going to have to come up with between 50 to $100,000 more dollars for workers comp, we budgeted for ($50,000),” he explained. “We were told last week that because we have had unusual high health insurance claims that we can expect if we want the same policy for our workers that we are going to have to pay $60,000 more. That means we are going to have to have three tiers and have employees pick a base plan and pay a few more dollars but that is not until January.”

The Mayor closed the meeting with what he called a “Tale of Two Cities.”

“Did you know that London has 1,000 less people than us and they have a $5 million more than we do, they bring in $5 million more than we do and they have less people,” he said. “We are going to be alright. We are going to pay our bills and do the best we can but if we want to do better, we are going to have to have a little bit more money coming in.”

He explained that London brings in extra money through a restaurant tax.

“If you want to go to downtown London, Corbin, Pineville, they have a restaurant tax,” he said. “Middlesboro is one of 42 cities in the state that is not allowed to have a restaurant tax because of the size of our city.”

According to Nelson, it is okay for smaller cities to implement the restaurant tax.

“If you want an ambulance, want a police car, want equipment for Kevin to work with, we need the money,” he said. “I just wanted to bring that up. We are not going to raise your taxes if you are wondering, but we are going to have to have a little bit more money.”

In other meeting news, the council approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to act as Agent to State and FEMA for all matters pertaining to disaster assistance. The council unanimously approved of a resolution authorizing the mayor to sign 2019 USDOT Build Discretionary Grant Program and Grant Application for the Cumberland Avenue Gateway Project.

There will be a work session with the Middlesboro City Council on July 9. The next regular council meeting will be July 16.