City to demolish old hospital

By Thomas Wilson

   The city of Elizabethton's fiscal budget is expected to include up to $500,000 for demolition of the Carter County Memorial Hospital building.
   In its second budget workshop held Tuesday night, Elizabethton City Council found favorable using $103,000 in existing capital funds to buy $1 million in bonds to fund city capital projects. City Manager Charles Stahl referenced a 5-year-old cost estimate of $500,000 to knock down the hospital building.
   "It might be higher," he told council members. "That quote did include asbestos removal but that is five years old."
   The city purchased the 5.4-acre property where the hospital stands at a public tax auction on Nov. 21, 2002. The property's owner, Wayne Graybeal, has one year from the date of auction to pay delinquent taxes plus penalty to reclaim the property under the "right-of-redemption" law.
   The 2004 fiscal year begins July 1.
   The council also prioritized including a $230,000 pumper truck for the city's fire department under the capital project buy. Fire Chief Mike Shouse had requested a fire tanker truck with a price tag of $450,000, or the pumper truck as an alternative.
   Other capital projects prioritized under the budget include:
   * $200,000 for street paving projects on West G and Broad streets as well as paving and draining repairs around the city recreation center on Mill Street
   * $33,000 for a mobile command center for the fire department
   * $30,000 to replace the roof on the Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center.
   Elizabethton Police Chief Roger Deal requested a one-time $37,000 appropriation to create a 12-member force of reserve police officers. The money would cover uniform, side arm, bulletproof vests and insurance coverage for each reserve officer. Deal had also requested a part-time receptionist's position be created for the department's criminal investigation division.
   Stahl advised the council that one funding option involves the reallocation of a lapsed salary of one city officer currently on active duty in the Army National Guard. If the council used that salary, the budget could possibly fund a part-time C.I.D. receptionist and a portion of the reserve force, Stahl told the council.
   City officials continue to watch and wait on the General Assembly to finalize its budget. The state House passed Gov. Phil Bredesen's Omnibus budget bill last week that included a 9 percent cut of state-shared revenues to city and county governments. The city has projected to lose approximately $155,000 of state-shared funds this year. The city's 2002-2003 general fund budget was cut by 13 percent from the previous year. This year's general fund budget has been reduced by an additional 11 percent.
   The council is scheduled to meet in special session on May 28 to consider the budget proposal on first reading.