EES board labors over proposed budget

By Julie Fann
star staff

EES board members went to the table once again on Wednesday in an attempt to cut costs on the proposed 2002-2003 EES budget. In a meeting that lasted two hours, the board discussed everything from postage fees to office supply costs.
   "We're doing a little better on our health insurance cost for general liability," said EES General Manager Phil Isaacs. Isaacs said new figures show $50,000 can be saved in insurance on the proposed budget. In the past two meetings, the board addressed skyrocketing insurance costs since Sept. 11, an issue that increased tension during union negotiations.
   "The savings had to do with timing," said Andrea Talbert, EES accountant. "We started putting the budget together at the same time we bid out our insurance. It just so happened the results from the bids came in recently," Talbert said.
   The board anticipates a $200,000 net loss of revenue due to the closing of Alcoa. Eighty percent of total revenue goes toward paying the TVA power bill, and sales were also down five percent this year.
   The budget still allows for a 2.6 percent cost of living raise for union employees, and an approximate 2.5 percent standard raise for non-union workers.
   Talbert explained to the board that she is required to follow a special accounting book, called the Uniform System of Accounts, when laying out the budget, because the TVA uses the book as a guideline.
   As a result, many accounts are combined together in an attempt to keep the budget spreadsheets within a workable framework. However, this meant greater struggle for board members who were trying to understand delegation of costs.
   The board decided to phase out on Jan. 1 a method of payment that involves customers paying their bill through bank tellers at either Citizens Bank or Carter County Bank. According to Talbert, EES could save approximately $9,500 a year if they could encourage those customers who pay at the banks to sign up for the bank draft and have their bill automatically removed from their checking or savings account.
   The board will meet again next week to continue reviewing the proposed 2002-2003 budget and find ways to cut costs.