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Elizabethton City Council enacts conservative budget for 2020-2021

John Thompson • Jun 29, 2020 at 10:20 PM

ELIZABETHTON — On Monday evening, the Elizabethton City Council unanimously approved the city’s new budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year on second and final reading. A public hearing was held before the vote, but no one spoke.

The budget has been described as a very conservative one that was designed during the full impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The budget totals for the new fiscal year are around the same amount as the 2019-20 budget, and the property tax rate remains the same: $1.85 per $100 of assessed value. The total for the General Fund is $18,200,137. The total for last year was $18,245,782.

The Council also unanimously approved the budget of the Elizabethton City School System. The total General Fund budget for the City Schools is $23,709,520.

While some previously planned expenditures were cut back because of the anticipated financial downturn caused by COVID-19, city councilmen and City Manager Daniel Estes made clear that the budget cuts were made on material and equipment purchases, not on personnel cuts or a drop in city services to citizens.

In fact, the new fiscal year will see a big increase in capital expenditure, thanks to the sale of bonds a few months ago. That sale makes possible a renovation of the Elizabethton Police Department, a new roof for T.A. Dugger Jr. High School and the purchase of a new pumper truck for the fire department.

The budget will come in larger, thanks to last-minute amendments to the budget to include some last-minute grants for the Elk Avenue bridge and the Covered Bridge, and also money received from a settlement in federal court on the taking of city property that had once been part of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina right of way and then became part of the Tweetsie Trail.

Monday’s Council meeting was a special called meeting and only budget matters could be discussed. The regularly scheduled Elizabethton City Council meeting takes place July 9.