Council approves 2001-2002 budget amendments

By Julie Fann

City council members approved fifth and final amendments to the 2001-2002 budget at its monthly meeting on Thursday. Changes included several grants that added dollars to the general fund budget, as well as amendments to the city schools' budget.
   The new total for the 2001-2002 general fund is $13,337,994. Council decided to close out the Bicentennial fund, which had a total of $17,710.
   Funds were added to the capital projects fund for FEMA flood mitigation land purchases, to the E. Bolling Trust fund, and to the East Tennessee Railroad Authority fund.
   The federal projects and child nutrition funds for city schools underwent adjustments to expenditures. The federal projects fund for city schools has a new total of $1,300,000, while the child nutrition fund is $900,000.
   Council amended its natural gas franchise agreement to provide for a five percent franchise fee assessed on natural gas furnished inside city limits.
   The city revised travel regulations in order to better track per diem and mileage reimbursement and encourage city employees to stay at conference host hotels and fully pay hotel bills. The new travel regulations also discontinue payment of personal phone calls.
   In new business, council agreed to a contract with TDOT (Tennessee Department of Transportation) for the installation of a guardrail at the intersection of State Route 362 and Southside Road as well as near Sylvan Hill Road on West G Street.
   "TDOT will pay 100 percent of the cost up to $50,000, and the estimate was below $50,000," said City Manager Charles Stahl.
   At the last city council meeting, members were presented with two proposals to provide a cable franchise fee audit to the city. One of the proposals came from Telecommunications Consulting Services at an estimated fee for eight hours at $125 per hour.
   The second proposal was received from Rothman Gordon Attorneys at Law, located in Pittsburgh, Pa., at an estimated fee ranging from $110 to $235 per hour.
   The city voted to accept Telecommunications Consulting Services for a cost not to exceed $1,000.
   Annual Tennessee Municipal League dues totaling $3,918 for 2002-2003 also came before city council. Mayor Sam LaPorte addressed the value of belonging to the TML because the city receives reduced insurance premiums.
   The Elizabethton Police Department was awarded a local law enforcement block grant totaling $11,087. The city voted to accept the funds, which will be used to address communication needs in the Milligan area.
   Changes made to sewer user effluent limitations in order to conform with state and federal guidelines were also accepted by city council.
   City council agreed to appoint Pat "Red" Bowers to the position on the Power Board recently vacated by Howard Matherly. Also, Mark Musick was appointed to the Airport Commission, and Charles Stahl received another term on the East Tennessee Railroad Authority.
   City council also addressed the coming sale of parcels due to unpaid property taxes totaling $38,677. Forty percent of the amount is owed by Wayne Graybeal, owner of the old Carter County Memorial Hospital, and 55 percent is owed by Charles Green, owner of NAF (North American Fibers).
   The remaining $2,001 is owed by other taxpayers, according to Ruth Bowers, secretary for City Attorney Roger Day.