City council will continue to smooth out budget issues

By Julie Fann
star staff

At its monthly meeting tomorrow, the Elizabethton City Council will vote on several amendments and resolutions to the new 2002-2003 budget to increase accountability and reduce confusion over numbers. First on the list is an ordinance to amend travel regulations for city employees.
   The new regulations will involve closely tracking state travel on major issues such as per diem and mileage reimbursement and will encourage individuals to stay at conference host hotels and to fully pay hotel bills. The new regulations also discontinue payment of personal phone calls.
   The City council also plans to implement a fixed asset policy to account for all items purchased and their net worth each year to better balance the budget. A list will be compiled and maintained that includes items to be inventoried every year.
   The inventory list includes all equipment that costs $500 or more, all firearms and body armor, all computers, scanners and printers, and any other equipment considered a pilferable item regardless of cost.
   Council will also vote to increase the purchase approval amount from $2,500 to $5,000. The major change in the revision is a requirement that city council approve all purchases over $5,000 and that the city's purchasing agent be used to get bids for those purchases.
   Also up for consideration is a vote to amend the existing natural gas franchise the city has with United Cities Gas Company to include a five percent franchise fee. The existing franchise expires in 2008.
   Authorization of a construction easement to the TDOT for renovation of the Elk Avenue Bridge will also be discussed. The easement includes 250 square feet of property that will be used for construction of a work area around the bridge.
   The City council also plans to clean up the 2001-2002 budget due to several grants that have come to the council for approval and that added to the bottom line of the general fund budget. Also, changes were made to the federal projects and child nutrition budgets for city schools, increasing the bottom line of their expenditures.
   The city's planning and development office will propose that an elevated crosswalk be built on Siam Road to connect with the linear walking/bicycle path due to a high volume of pedestrians. The crosswalk was designed when the path was built to increase safety.
   City council will also vote to approve traffic calming devices to be built through the center of the Milligan College campus to improve the safety of students.