City Council approves first reading of budget ordinance

Published 11:29 am Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Middlesboro City Council approved the first reading of the budget ordinance for the fiscal year running from July 1, 2025 through June 30, 2025 at their regular meeting on Tuesday evening. They also approved ordinances setting the Ad Valorem tax levies for real and personal property for the upcoming year and kept those rates the same as last year.

“We sat down with all of our department heads and they came up with what they felt like were the needs. It was nice to see that those needs were met,” Mayor Boone Bowling said of the new budget. “They did a good job of prioritizing what’s a need and what’s a want, that’s a compliment to them. This budget includes all the needs in each department to move the city forward. And we’re always glad when the taxes don’t have to be increased.”

The proposed budget includes a total of $17.899 million in overall revenue and $17,538,250 in total expenditures and projects a surplus of  $360,750.

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The budget projects $930,000 in administrative expenses, nearly $2,198,250 for the Police Department, $1,984,000 for the Fire Department, $2,078,750 for the Ambulance Service, $2,809,750 for the Sewer Department, $823,000 for the Street Department, $574,500 for Parks & Recreation, $970,500 for sanitation and just over $4 million for general items.

There will be a special called meeting on Tuesday, June 25 for the second reading of the budget ordinance.

Tax rates set by the council are 23.20 cents per $100 of assessed value on personal property and 6.90 cents per $100 of assessed value on real property.

In other business, Sewer Department Manager Josh Campbell reported to the council that one of the sewer system’s two clarifiers has broken down and the initial estimate on having it repaired is $11,500.

“It wasn’t anything that we could have caught,” Campbell said. “You’ve got an electric motor and gearbox that drives another gear. That gear got slop inside of the shaft and it caused the gear to bind up.

“They’ll have to pull that gearbox out and they may have to repair the shaft.”

He said the clarifier had just been rebuilt less than two years ago and they still had the gearbox from the old one. That could be used to make the clarifier operational if there’s a long delay in getting new parts to repair it.

“We’re waiting to hear back on what the lead time is for the parts. If it’s going to be six or eight weeks or longer, I can get the clarifier back in service until they can get it fixed,” he said. “We’ve got two big tanks that stir and they both have a clarifier. Right now I’ve got both tanks that stir it up but just one clarifier. The plant is running well right now, we’re fortunate that it’s a time of year when we don’t get a lot of rain.”

Campbell also said he would look into using a boom truck or crane from a local business instead of having the service company drive their boom truck all the way from Lawrenceburg to save some on the cost of the repair.

During his report, Police Chief Petie Gilbert told the council that Sgt. Nick Capps has been recertified to install car seats and that the department has hired T.J. Patterson but couldn’t get him to a training class until December.

The department recently sent Capps and officers Hurd and Quillen to two weeks of SWAT training in Indiana.

Council members Bill Smith and Glynna Brown both told Gilbert they had heard complaints about glass and other debris not being removed  from the road after traffic accidents. Gilbert said it was the responsibility of the wreckers to clear the road but that he would remind his officers to make sure the debris was being removed when accident scenes are cleared.

When asked if any plans had been made to deal with the possibility of a medical cannabis dispensary coming to the city, Mayor Bowling said no decisions had been made yet.

“There’s a lot of questions from cities and counties right now and we’re waiting until we get some more answers from the state or the League of Cities before we dig into it,” he said.

Council member Brad Cawood thanked Travis Keck for all of his work on Tee Ball and Middlesboro Youth Baseball leagues.

“We had a wonderful tournament and great turnout for the awards day,” he said. “There were literally 200 or 300 kids out there and everybody got to go and hang out with their team, get their awards and then play on inflatables at the field.”

Keck said the league had nine Tee Ball teams and baseball for kids up to age 12. A Fall Ball league is being planned for kids age 4 to 12.

“If you’re looking for something in the spring, summer and now the fall, get your kids out and have them come and play sports,” Cawood said. “It was awesome. My kids loved it and it was great for everybody.”

Bowling said the city’s Fourth of July fireworks display would be on July 4 starting at 10 p.m. and on the 4th starting at 11 a.m. the civic center would be open with free hot dogs and watermelon for everyone.

He also reminded everyone that the Levitt AMP Music series starts this Thursday evening with a free concert every Thursday in downtown Middlesboro through August 22.