ELIZABETHTON — The Elizabethton City Council voted 7-1 on Thursday night to provide the Elizabethton Golf Course with $160,000 to cover cash flow problems at the recreational facility. The measure will require a public hearing and second reading at next month’s meeting.
The cash flow problems were uncovered during a recent audit. Among the problems was the discovery of unpaid payroll taxes. It was estimated that at least $160,000 would be needed to keep operations going at the golf course.
Prior to Thursday night’s meeting, there had been a plan for the city to loan the $160,000 to the golf course, with the loan paid back over a period of five years at 2.19 percent interest. Interim City Manager Jerome Kitchens said that plan was rejected by the state comptroller.
Kitchens told the council the comptroller said a loan was only allowed when its payback came in the same fiscal year.
Even though the loan was not allowed, Kitchens said the liabilities of the golf course were ultimately the city’s liabilities. He said the golf course needed cash as soon as possible to pay the debts. He said the council’s only option was to take the $160,000 from the city’s unrestricted fund balance to provide funds for the golf course. He said the council needed to follow up with conditions to ensure better financial controls would be set in place.
Two council members, Richard Tester and Bob Cable, suggested establishing oversight committees to keep an eye on the golf course reforms. No action was taken, but two boards will be holding meetings during the next month that will address the problem. One is the Golf Course Board and the other is the Park and Recreation Board.
Most of the council members said they had little choice but to vote for the cash infusion, but Nancy Alsup cast the lone dissenting vote. She said she voted against the proposal because “the only time we ever hear from the golf course is when they want money.”
In other matters, the council unanimously approved the second and final reading of an ordnance to grant the Carter County Rescue Squad an exclusive franchise for ground ambulance and rescue services for a term of four years.
The council also approved a resolution to obtain $250,000 in capital outlay notes to obtain a new garbage truck. The loan would be paid off in five years. Interest rates are expected to be in the 2 or 3 percent range.
Mayor Curt Alexander reminded the audience that the deadline for applying for one of the city’s liquor store permits is 5 p.m. Jan. 18. He said a called meeting of the council will be held Jan. 31 to decide which applicants will be approved.