Council Votes: 6/1/15 & 6/8/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY/2016 Budget Discussions

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the June 1st & 8th 2015 City Council Meetings. The complete agenda packets are found here and here and a video of the June 8th meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be posted at the city website as part of the July 2015 Regular Meeting Agenda packet.

June 1, 2015 Meeting

VI. SPECIAL REPORTS

 a. The City Manager presented an overview of his FY2016 Budget. His recommendation is for a one cent tax increase to the budget. A complete copy of the proposed budget is found here. As explained below, the document contains miscalculations as does the final  FY2015 Budget. This has already made it nearly impossible for council and citizens to make accurate assessments of what is being proposed. My cursory assessment thus far shows that:

  • Total Revenues are down $903,131
    • The finance director realized an error and corrected this as follows: Total revenues are up $652,369.  There was a cell calculation error in the total revenue column on the combining fund spreadsheet.  It did not add in the new grant revenue line item of $1,555,500.  
  • Total Expenditures are up $2.8M
  • Total Education Expenditures are up $4M
  • Total General Fund Expenditures are up $4.7M
    • Per the finance director: That is the increase from the original 2015 General Fund budget.  The 2015 General Fund budget was amended to $23,221,510 ($2,704,000 increase) to include operations previously accounted for in the Solid Waste Fund.  The difference between the amended FY15 budget and the FY16 proposed General Fund budgeted expenditures is $1,996,893.  This increase is comprised of $1,801,600 in budgeted expenditures that would previously have been accounted for in the Street and Public Transportation Fund (STP) and Grant Fund and $195,293 in other regular General Fund budgeted expenditures. The STP and Grant Funds are budgeted to be closed at the end of FY15 and their operations accounted for in the General Fund going forward with fiscal 2016.
  • The city’s total contribution to the schools is up $651,613 as presented. (FYI: The ORS budget shows a figure of $15,440,915 as opposed to ours of $15,280,915).

b. The BOE presented their budget for the schools which included a request for a seven cent tax increase. The city manager included a total of an eight cent tax increase in the proposed budget.

NO VOTES WERE TAKEN ON THESE MATTERS THIS EVENING

VIII. RESOLUTIONS

A resolution amending resolution 07-64-2014 increasing the funding for the Blankenship Field Parking Lot project to $275,000 and awarding a contract to Rogers Group in the amount of $264,791. Motion approved 5-1 with Baughn voting “Nay” Gooch was absent.

This issue was last voted on nearly a year ago as discussed here. My objections then and now include:

  • This is a completely unnecessary expenditure (the parking lot is fine)
  • The cost has increased exponentially without explanation or justification from an original $69K request for a ramp to $180K for the parking lot resurfacing to now $275K which does not include lighting
  • No cost breakdown has ever been provided for any of these quotes
  • As councilman Chinn discussed at length, there are ongoing fundraising and planning efforts to renovate the entire stadium and field. He stated a need for this project to go forward in order to demonstrate to potential donors that the city was supportive of the renovation. I pointed out that that work should logically precede parking lot work since heavy trucks will undoubtedly cause damage to the lot as it affords the primary, if not only, access to the complex. 

IX. ELECTIONS

Confirmation of the nomination of Thomas L. Clary to the Oak Ridge Utility District Board of Commissioners for a five year term beginning July 1, 2015. Confirmed by acclamation.

June 8, 2015 Meeting/1st Reading of the FY2016 Budget

IV. APPEARANCE OF CITIZENS

A number of citizens spoke out against the proposed DOE nuclear waste landfill to be built less than one mile from the Scarboro Residential Community. A petition signed by residents was presented to the city clerk.

VII. CONSENT AGENDA  6 items passed by unanimous vote

b. Resolution waiving competitive bids and awarding Waste Management for the disposal of biosolids at Chestnut Ridge Landfill in the amount of $125,000. (50% increase over last year’s $85K because of a $60K savings in stopping all land application).

c. Resolution waiving competitive bids and awarding Rogers Group, JG Mullins, APAC Tennessee and other suitable companies for emergency street resurfacing in the amount of $175,000. Spent $141K each of last two years = 24% padding with no formula behind the buffer

d. Resolution waiving competitive bids and awarding Poore’s Tree Service, Blank’s Tree Service, Wolf Tree Experts and other suitable companies as needed for tree removal and trimming in the estimated amount of $30,000. (a $5000 decrease from last year.)

e. Resolution waiving competitive bids and awarding Spillman Technologies the annual maintenance contract for their ORPD software in the amount of $45,000.

f. Resolution waiving competitive bids and awarding Motorola the annual maintenance contract for their 800MHz trunked communications system for $84,000.

See here for notes on justifications for waiving competitive bids in the past

VIII. RESOLUTIONS

a. Resolution authorizing the purchase of (1) track loader (1) mini excavator, (1) portable CCTV system and (1) dump truck for Public Works for $270,293. Motion passed  7-0   First two items previously rented out annually for about $26,000. The PW director affirmed that these items were budgeted for in 2015, but did not explain why he waited until the end of the budget year to purchase them.

b. Resolution waiving competitive bids and awarding contracts to Stwoers, Bobcat, Contractors Machinery, United Rentals, Nortrax and other suitable companies as needed for rental of heavy equipment for FY2016 for use in Public Works for an amount of $70,000. Chinn moved to reduce to $50K, Motion as amended passed 7-0 Note: As originally presented, PW had budgeted in a $30K (buffer 43%).

c. Resolution awarding a bid for $169,221 to Swift Industries for battery system replacement at electric substations. Motion passed 7-0   Note: amount includes a $20K contingency Motion passed  7-0

d. Resolution awarding bids for $155,848 to Wesco Distribution and $24,084 to ERMCO Distribution for single-hase pole mounted transformers.Motion passed  7-0

e. Resolution awarding a bid for $55,000 to Baker and Taylor Books for books for the library. (Annual budget for books is $140K, this is one source for specific categories of materials) Motion passed  7-0

XII. PUBLIC HEARINGS AND FIRST READINGS OF ORDINANCES

Ordinance to carry over a temporary tax rate from FY2015 by imposing a temporary tax rate and adopting appropriations. Gooch moved to defer until June 15th. Motion passed  7-0   Note: This was the discussion of the FY2016 budget. Due to the fact that Roane County’s appraisals are incomplete, we are unable to accurately calculate revenues. The uncertainty of the impact of the decrease in Anderson County appraisals has also contributed to our inability to accurately project revenues and deficiencies. For these reasons and an unprecedented level of shifting within the budget by the city manager between dozens, if not hundreds, of line items and funds, I supported a delay.

Read more on our discussions here and here.

An ordinance amending the due date and delinquent date of city taxes when state or county re-appraisal timetable falls behind the city’s due date and delinquency dates. Motion passed  7-0  

X. FINAL ADOPTION OF ORDINANCES

An ordinance to repeal and replace the ordinance for rules and regulations governing distribution of electrical power. NOTE: Changes primarily align with TVA requirements; however changes to relax deposit requirements for residents living in the city for 5 years or more were also included.   Motion passed  7-0  

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4 thoughts on “Council Votes: 6/1/15 & 6/8/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY/2016 Budget Discussions

  1. As a figure of merit for consideration, one always wonders what a ‘revenue neutral’ property tax rate would be for the new year after the property assessment has been completed.? Again the Rhone Co. situation would make this difficult at this juncture in time, but estimates could be made based on reasonable assumptions. It’s all too easy to hide a tax increase when multiple parameters change simultaneously.

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