, Corbin, KY

Local News

June 4, 2014

Williamsburg City Council hears first reading of budget

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

Williamsburg City Council members got to hear the first reading of the 2014-2015 fiscal year budget Tuesday — but it came on the heels of news of an unavoidable, impending expense concerning the city’s flood wall.

During the council’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Mayor Roddy Harrison explained the news he received about the flood wall “is a little disturbing, but it is what it is.”

He explained that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) now requires that cities with flood protection, such as Williamsburg and Barbourville, have their flood walls certified.

“The certification has to be done by a civil engineer or the Corp of Engineers,” Harrison said. “We have to prove that our levee still would hold up to a 100-year flood — we don’t have a choice.”

The potential price tag brought gasps of surprise from several council members.

“(This) could cost as high as $100,000,” Harrison warned, adding that there “may be some money available.”

The mayor explained that it could save the city time if council members elected to choose the firm to federally certify the flood wall, rather than go through the Corp of Engineers.

Harrison said he has already met with some of these groups, and learned “there’s a good chance of help in getting the funding for this.”

But Harrison said this process should be started no later than March 2015, as the process takes approximately five months to complete.

He added that the bid process will soon start for the regular inspection of the flood wall, but that inspection does not cover the federally mandated certification. He also said that if the certification specialist found problems with the flood wall during the certification process — those costs would fall to the city.

No decisions were necessary — Harrison wanted to inform council members of the impending expense.

Council members then heard the first reading of the city’s budget.

Harrison told members that the city’s budget, while tight, could include a $2,000 per employee raise.

“The city is in good shape,” the mayor said. “However, revenues for water, sewer and garbage have decreased — and expenses are on the increase.”

He added that the loss of CSC caused a hit with the city’s occupational tax funds. “Health care costs rose as well,” Harrison said.

But he wanted to include raises for the city employees.

“We made huge cuts where we could (to) keep everyone employed,” he said, explaining that each city department was tasked with finding 2 percent in their respective budgets to cut out. “Some cut less, some cut more,” he added, saying the cuts brought in a little more than $100,000 to the table for the budget. “We did find a lot to cut,” he said.

In order to keep city staff and maintain city services, the decision was made to sign on with a “lower” coverage option when it came to the city’s health insurance. In the process of signing on with a rate, Harrison said the option chosen provides employees to “buy up” and get the increased coverage for $50 per month. The city currently pays just over $408 per employee for health insurance.

“We are looking for any and all (ways to increase) revenue in Williamsburg,” Harrison said, with the goal of increasing the “city’s property taxes and occupational taxes we lost.”

He also said the hope is to add more revenue in the water and sewer departments. He also mentioned a possible ordinance to change the city’s parking and other fines. “Some of these are years and years and years old,” Harrison said. “We’re doing anything and everything to bring a revenue stream without raising taxes.”

Harrison also warned of an impending increase in electricity rates — after new federal emissions regulations come into law.

General fund revenues total $3,021,452. The expenditures for this fund include:

— General fund, $900,976

— Police, $991,144

— Fire, $358,127

— Street, $138,551

— Sanitation, $547,447

— Recreation, $85,207

The budget for the Hal Rogers Family Entertainment Center shows revenues and expenses totaling $1,075,450.

The sinking fund budget for the entertainment center shows revenues and expenses totaling $453,340.

Water revenues are expected to be $1,135,970, and expenses are budgeted at $1,064,793. Under that same heading, sewer revenues are anticipated to be $855,470, with expenses budgeted at $926,647. Total revenues for water and sewer are budgeted at $1,991,440, with expenses budgeted that same amount.

The water and sewer sinking fund revenues and expenses are budgeted at $332,204.

The Williamsburg Tourism was also discussed during Tuesday’s meeting — their budget calls for $648,300 in total income, with that same amount under expenses. Harrison noted that $252,000 was the water park bond payment.

No votes were needed for the first reading. The second reading of the budget is slated for 3 p.m. Thursday, June 3 at city hall.

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