Mayor Kenneth Usry leads budget talks.

Monday evening during a work session Mayor Kenneth Usry led the Thomson City Council through a discussion of the proposed budget the group will approve Thursday night.

There will be a public hearing Thursday at  5 p.m. on the proposed $19,377,781  budget for 2021. The public will be allowed to make comments. Following the public hearing, the council will immediately convene its regular meeting to adopt the budget and deal with several other items on the agenda. The city is proposing a balanced budget, with revenues and expenses matching.

Budgeted revenues are:

•General Fund revenue of $4,166,013

•Water and Sewer Fund revenue of $5,985,157

•Gas Fund revenue of $7,730,962

•Solid Waste Fund revenue of $1,231,871

•Maintenance Fund revenue of $263,778

The mayor provided some highlights, and later addressed some specifics.

Usry, in discussing the general fund,  told the board there is about a $5,100 projected increase in property tax revenue and sales tax receipts will remain budgeted about the same. Insurance premium tax is budgeted up a little.

“Essentially there’s no change in revenue in the general fund,” he said.

He talked more in depth about the police department budget, which will be budgeted for about 19 people.

“They are requesting three new vehicles, we have two vehicles in this budget,” he said.

Later in the meeting, the board discussed the police department budget in more detail.

There will be no fire expense, but there will be about $18,000 of insurance coverage expense for retirees.

In the streets department there will be no additional employees.

“Routine expenses are relatively flat,” Usry said.

He also said the Archway Partnership budget will drop from $10,000 to $5,000.

Usry equated this year’s budget to the prior year’s and said “It almost mirrors last year’s budget.”

One of the areas the council discussed in more detail was the police department budget.

“Y’all we have seen a steady increase in the police department over the last three years, four years,” Usry told the council.

He said he was hoping with some changes being directed by City Administrator Donald Toms, eliminating the assistant chief position, and a couple of personnel changes that the city may create a downturn in police department expenses.

The budget for the police department is $1,433,740.

“That’s almost twice as much as the property taxes we collect,” Usry said.

He pointed to $68,000 budgeted to cover the purchase of two of the three requested police cars.

“Don (Toms) is trying to get a handle on what we’ve got up there. We’ve got vehicles sitting everywhere,” said Usry.

The city administrator is working to determine which vehicles are not used and could be auctioned. Usry explained those proceeds could be used to help purchase the third requested vehicle.

“I can’t tell you that they have too many vehicles up there, but every time I go up there I see a lot of vehicles and we bought a lot of used vehicles through the years,” Usry told the board.

Usry said the county found success using Sunset Auction’s local capabilities rather than using a government surplus sales website and the city would like to in similar manner try selling through the local auctioneer.

Usry and Councilman Alton Belton talked about other vehicles and generators that the city has that could be sold.

Councilman Scott Whittle also brought up the idea of lease-to-purchase options for police vehicles and Usry said the city could take a look at that.

Usry moved on to address personnel at the police department.

The proposed budget contains $757,873 for salaries and overtime. Of that, $72,782 is for overtime.

“We’ve got to get a little better control over that,” Usry said. “You can always have overtime because you’ve got people you’ve got to call in, you’ve got vacations, but that’s an exorbitant amount of overtime.”

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