Jellico could finally be looking at solutions to its budget woes after help from the Tennessee state comptroller’s office.
“Ms. Iris told me as of today [Nov. 26] the city was going to make 22 percent or more in cuts across the board,” Stiers said, referring to last month’s meeting with comptroller representative Iris Haby.
Stiers, who does not want to cut services or employees, presented a list of revenues and cuts compiled for the comptroller.
“The task was my task to figure this out, figure out the cuts and to work with the comptroller’s office. I was to write an analysis from Nov. 26 to June 2013. I had to give a listing of cash flow, all of our bills,” said Stiers.
At the comptroller’s suggestion, police and fire supplements were cut, saving the town $15,300 per year. An example of a supplement would be money paid to the K-9 officer to compensate him for the food and care of the dog.
Dispatch hours and overtime in the police department were one of the cuts made within the last several months. Those moves will save the town $19,248.
Health insurance and workman’s compensation insurance changes could save the town $140,460 per year, and employees will still maintain health insurance with better rates than the current plan, said Stiers.
Billy Rowe, general manager of Jellico Electric has found a potential $62,400 in annual savings by changing the way lighting is handled in the city.
According to Rowe, TVA performed an audit of lights in downtown Jellico and found the town had several more lights than required by the state.
“The illumination for the state was 2.5 candle power, and they were estimating we were at 10 to 10.5 [candle power]” he said. By turning off some of the lights, and changing remaining lights to LED bulbs, $4,000 will be saved per month.
Potential cuts to the town budget included $237,408.
In the last several months, the board has approved rate increases for outside fire protection, town court costs, rental of the public works garage, an increase in garbage fees and the sale of scrap metal. While the scrap metal was a one-time revenue of $6,025, the garbage and fire rate increases could mean up to $90,205 in revenues.
New proposed revenues include the sale of recyclable oil, which will garner $1,700 annually, a security arrangement with the Jellico Electric and Water Service, in which the Jellico Police Department will help monitor JEWS property, a renewed chance to sell the Taylor Machine Shop Building, and the rental of the civic center basement to MBR TV at $300 per month. Combined with no longer needing to pay utilities at the public works garage, revenues equal $206,090.
That figure does not include revenue that could be gained from the sale of land behind the hospital, or the sale of the two parcels on Douglas Lane.
Stiers estimated the cuts and revenues to total close to 40 percent of the towns budget, well above the comptroller’s suggestion of 22 percent.
Several board members shared strategies that could bring more money into Jellico on either a temporary or long-term basis.
“I think we need to do this immediately, all names in the paper of people that owe back taxes,” said Alderman Darrell Byrge.
Of the 2011 taxes, $120,000 is still owed.
“People in this city and in this room haven’t paid their 2011 to the tune of $120,000,” Stiers said.
Byrge also suggested selling timber off the land behind the hospital before the land is sold.
“I think we ought to clear cut it, select cut it,” he said. “Get paid twice.”
Other ideas included a city sticker, similar to a wheel tax.
“With 5,500 cars in the city at $10 a year, you do the math there,” Byrge said.
Byrge also broached the topic of annexation.
“I think we need to put our heads together and look at it and not think about a handful that don’t want it,” he said.
“I’m not crazy about these things, but it’s money,” he said.