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BMA passes $5.3 million budget

At a June 30 called meeting, the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed a $5.3 million general fund budget by a vote of 3-1.
Aldermen Chuck Vest, Mary Gearhart and Terry Countermine voted to pass the budget, while Alderman Jerome Fitzgerald voted against it.
The budget includes the 3 percent salary increase that has been built into the town’s compensation plan for a number of years, but does not include any funding of the new employee compensation plan, which Fitzgerald had said in the past was his objection to the budget process.
According to a town report, “because of the need for additional homework, and the tight budgets,” the BMA voted as recommended to defer any consideration of funding the new compensation plan until the beginning of the 2011 calendar year.
The BMA also passed the 2010 property tax rate, which will remain the same as last year, and the garbage collection fees, which will also remain the same.
Fitzgerald passed on the property tax rate vote, with Vest, Gearhart and Countermine voting in favor of the motion; he voted against the garbage fees as well, with the other three voting for the move.
A slight increase in the water rate is the only change in Town rates from this fiscal year to the next.
The 50 cents per 1,000-gallons used increase is a 7.6 percent rise in rates inside city limits, because sewer service fees are raised as well. Outside the city limits, the same increase translates to a 3.5 percent rise in rates.
The town has been making costly improvements to the water and sewer systems and had to either raise revenues or cut costs to balance the budget.
“The water/sewer budget is a bare bones budget,” a town report said. “The revenue generated [by the increase] balances the budget and gives us about a $60,000 cushion in a $5,725,900 budget. This is not much flexibility.”
Countermine said the water improvements are worth the increase in tax because they result in better quality water.
“When I moved here, the water was not very good,” he said. “But we made an investment.”
Countermine and Gearhart voted yes, with Vest passing and Fitzgerald voting no.
Also at the meeting, the BMA appointed William Wallace Sparks to the newly created position of Director of Streets by a vote of 3-1, with Fitzgerald voting no.
The BMA had previously approved creating a Director of Streets position as part of the Work Task Analysis suggestions.
“This Sparks, he’s probably a good guy, so I have nothing against him,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m just against the position. I think it’s a waste.”
Sparks has worked as a supervisor in the Street Department in Johnson City for many years. His salary wil be $42,200.