A cautionary note: Council passed a flat budget on first reading tonight. Many people assume that all is done and don’t pay as much attention to the final reading (June 14th). I’ve seen enough last-minute changes to know that anything can happen. Tonight’s votes foreshadow possible changes next week.
The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the June 9, 2014 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be posted at the city website as part of the July 2014 Regular Meeting Agenda packet.
VIII. PUBLIC HEARINGS AND FIRST READING OF ORDINANCES
Ordinance establishing a fixed tax rate, adopting a budget and adopting appropriations. After much public input and discussion, Baughn motioned to adjust the school operating transfer to $14,629,302 which reduced the proposed tax rate from $2.79 to $2.39 (the same as it was last year). Motion passed 5-2 with Hensley and Hope voting “No.” Amended motion passed 6-1 with Hope voting “no”
Total school spending has increased 36% ($15.4 million) in the last ten years. Oak Ridge has outspent the entire state and the national average (per pupil) for decades.
The school budget will increase $3.5M (6%) without/before a city increase.
City will increase school funding by over $500K without a tax increase due to the High School Mortgage shift.
With nearly $200M debt, water and sewer rates having doubled in a few short years and having 3rd highest tax rate, we cannot add further to our taxpayers’ burden. According to census data about Oak Ridge:
- 19.3% of our residents are over 65 years old (compared to the state average of 13.4%)
- 48% of our school children participate in free and reduced lunch program
- 67% of those employed full time make less than $50,000
- At least 1/3 of our housing is occupied by renters (of 4,000+ units, over 1,000 are subsidized)
Considering all of this and that we are projecting an increase in sales tax revenue of $500K, we should be giving back to our citizens NOT asking them for more.
a. Contract renewal with Ferguson Group for federal lobbyist services for $30K. Motion passed 7-0
b. Resolution establishing two additional monthly meetings from July – October 2014 for policy and planning discussions. Motion passed 5-2 with Beehan and Miller voting “No”