Elizabethton approves 2019-2020 budget on first reading

John Thompson • Updated Jun 13, 2019 at 9:43 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Elizabethton City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to approve a balanced city budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The budget will require a 6-cent increase in the property tax, moving the property tax rate from this year’s $1.79 per $100 of assessed value to a new rate of $1.85. The council voted 6-0, with Mayor Curt Alexander absent.

The new budget will require a public hearing and final City Council vote this month.

Councilman Jeff Treadway emphasized that 4 cents of the property tax rate increase came as a need to replace the revenue the city is losing as a result of the state legislature’s repeal of the Hall Income Tax. That tax has been gradually reduced over the last four years. When it was at its peak in 2016-17, the city received $255,000 annually from the income tax. 

Treadway said the revenue raised from the remaining 2 cents of the property tax increase will go to the city’s street department to increase the amount of paving. The additional revenue will increase the city’s paving fund from $400,000 to $453,891,

There is one other area where city residents will see an increase. Council members unanimously approved an increase in sanitation fees for residential garbage fees, going from $10 per month to $13 per month. It is the first increase in the residential garbage fee since 2012. The increase will bring an additional $145,498 in annual revenue. The council also voted unanimously to increase the bulk container fee from $21.85 per pick up to $25 per pick up. The increase will mean an additional $85,000 in annual revenue. 

The council also unanimously approved the annual budgets for the Elizabethton City Schools, Elizabethton Municipal Airport, and Elizabethton Golf Course.

In other matters, the council amended a proposed interlocal agreement for the Carter County Joint Economic and Community Development Board before voting to accept the rest of it. The amendment took out a section referring to funding of the board. The agreement must also be approved by the Carter County Commission, the city of Johnson City and the city of Watauga before it goes into effect.

There was no discussion on whether Elizabethton’s amendment would have an impact on the agreement of the other board members.

The board also approved an agreement with the Southern Off-Road Bicycles Association on the development of bicycle trails in the city-owned Hampton watershed.

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