ELIZABETHTON — On Thursday evening the Elizabethton City Council will be considering a budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year that should create no controversies during this stage in the COVID-19 pandemic.

City Manager Daniel Estes and Finance Director Preston Cobb said Elizabethton was fortunate through the pandemic and its financial position remains strong. At the time the current budget was developed during April and May of 2020, the city was at the peak of the pandemic and there was a lot of financial uncertainty at that time about how the quarantine and mass closures of nonessential businesses would impact the economy.

Because of that uncertainty, the city approved an extremely conservative budget, with virtually no spending for capital projects or nonrecurring costs. The one exception was a request by City Council to keep spending on road paving and resurfacing.

As a result of the city’s good financial position, Estes said there will be no increase in property taxes next year. The city has not yet been able to announce what the property tax rate will be because Carter County has recently undergone a reappraisal and the state has not provided the certified tax rate that would keep the revenue from property taxes at the same level. For most city residents, the property taxes paid will be the same, even though most residents saw the appraisal on their property increase.

The new budget also has some good news for city employees, with a 4% cost-of-living raise for employees. Even more good news is that employees will not have to pay any more for health insurance even through there was a 7.3 percent increase in premiums. The city will absorb the entire increase.

The total revenue for 2021-22 is projected at $18,023,563. That represents a decline from this year’s revenue of $20,576,724. Total appropriations for this year are $19,147,064. That is an increase from the appropriations in last year’s conservative budget of $18,420,052. With such a conservative budget, the fund balance increased by $2,156,672. As the city gets back to a more normal stance this year, there will be decrease in the fund balance of $1,123,501.

The projected ending fund balance for next year is $8,993,271. Even with the more than $1 million decline in the fund balance next year, the ending fund balance in 2019-20 was $1 million less at $7,960,100.

In the city school budget, the general fund is projected at $25,273,932. The federal projects budget is projected at $5,988,237 and the school nutrition fund is $1,174,075.

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John Thompson covers Carter and Johnson counties for the Johnson City Press since 1998. He grew up in Washington County and graduated from University High and East Tennessee State University

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