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Council set to OK budget

PULASKI — The Pulaski Town Council will hold a special called meeting next week to adopt its 2008-2009 fiscal year budget.
No one from the public spoke in favor of or against the proposed budget Tuesday during a public hearing.
Town Manager John Hawley said the Town Council has to wait at least seven days after the public hearing before adopting the budget.
The meeting has been called for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
In his budget message to the town council, Hawley said several factors affected the budget for the next fiscal year, including an increase in debt service of more than $378,000 due to two lump sum payments on the James Hardie site preparation costs.
He said almost half of that sum was covered “through the efforts of the staff and (the) Council,” so “only” about $200,000 had to be appropriated from the fund balance.
The town also had to make up for lost revenue as the result of discovering it did not have the authority to tax cigars and smokeless tobacco.
To make up for that loss, the Town Council approved a five-cent increase per pack in its cigarette tax.
Although a three-cent increase would have covered the lost revenue, Hawley said the increase was made two cents higher to generate about $18,000 in additional revenue for the general fund.
Another means of enhancing town revenue sources is to increase the town’s meals tax by one cent.
The new rate as of July 1 will be six cents per dollar spent.
Hawley estimated the increase should result in around $90,000 in additional revenue.
New businesses within the town limits should also generate increased revenue for the town from business license fees and sales taxes collected, the town manager added.
While most businesses and governments find their health insurance costs increasing, the Town of Pulaski actually experienced a decrease in premiums for the second year in a row.
Another change in the upcoming budget is implementation of a new eight-step compensation plan for each of the 11 pay grades for the town’s employees.
Hawley said this is the first time since 1985 the town has had a compensation plan. Under the plan, an employee’s pay would increase to a set amount annually for eight years.
At the end of the eight years, the employee would then be eligible for cost-of-living adjustments.
Although outgoing Councilman Lane Penn said he would like to see employees be able to reach their top pay in fewer than eight years, the Town Council voted unanimously to begin using the plan.
Hawley said it would have been too much of a burden on each year’s budget to have reduced the number of years to reach top pay.
Under the compensation plan, new employees would receive salaries ranging from $21,461 to $40,722 per year, depending upon their grade rating.
Eight years later, those same employees would have pay ranging from $29,834 to $64,905 per year.
Hawley said it will take at least two years to get each employee’s pay adjusted to the “appropriate step.”
The town also made some adjustments in its employee base.
A manager’s position in the Engineering Department will remain vacant this year. However, some new positions will be added: a manager position in Human Resources and Payroll, a parks maintenance technician, and a part-time position in Code Compliance. The new parks position is being partially offset by a reduction in part-time staff in the parks department.
Hawley pointed out that the town’s water fund will remain balanced at current rates this year, but the sewer fund may be a different situation.
Presently, all but about $100,000 in increased treatment charges from Peppers Ferry Regional Wastewater Treatment Authority can be covered under the existing sewer charges. Unfortunately, he said an in-year increase may become necessary at a later date “if costs are not held down.”
As with everyone else, the increased fuel costs also are putting a pinch on the upcoming budget.
“All funds are faced with rising fuel costs and the cost of electricity and other energy sources,” Hawley stated in his budget message to the town council. “We continue as a staff to work on methods to offset these rises and feel the proposed budget reflects our best estimate of costs.”

Despite the revenue shortfalls that had to be addressed, Hawley said there is “hope” for a “solid year” in the town as the result of “positive actions” such as the return of baseball, completion of the trail extension, Gatewood Park facilities and the opening of several new businesses.
He said the town staff is “ready to work” with new Mayor Jeff Worrell, the town council and town residents “in making Pulaski the best it can be with this proposed budget.”

Council set to OK budget

PULASKI — The Pulaski Town Council will hold a special called meeting next week to adopt its 2008-2009 fiscal year budget.
No one from the public spoke in favor of or against the proposed budget Tuesday during a public hearing.
Town Manager John Hawley said the Town Council has to wait at least seven days after the public hearing before adopting the budget.
The meeting has been called for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
In his budget message to the town council, Hawley said several factors affected the budget for the next fiscal year, including an increase in debt service of more than $378,000 due to two lump sum payments on the James Hardie site preparation costs.
He said almost half of that sum was covered “through the efforts of the staff and (the) Council,” so “only” about $200,000 had to be appropriated from the fund balance.
The town also had to make up for lost revenue as the result of discovering it did not have the authority to tax cigars and smokeless tobacco.
To make up for that loss, the Town Council approved a five-cent increase per pack in its cigarette tax.
Although a three-cent increase would have covered the lost revenue, Hawley said the increase was made two cents higher to generate about $18,000 in additional revenue for the general fund.
Another means of enhancing town revenue sources is to increase the town’s meals tax by one cent.
The new rate as of July 1 will be six cents per dollar spent.
Hawley estimated the increase should result in around $90,000 in additional revenue.
New businesses within the town limits should also generate increased revenue for the town from business license fees and sales taxes collected, the town manager added.
While most businesses and governments find their health insurance costs increasing, the Town of Pulaski actually experienced a decrease in premiums for the second year in a row.
Another change in the upcoming budget is implementation of a new eight-step compensation plan for each of the 11 pay grades for the town’s employees.
Hawley said this is the first time since 1985 the town has had a compensation plan. Under the plan, an employee’s pay would increase to a set amount annually for eight years.
At the end of the eight years, the employee would then be eligible for cost-of-living adjustments.
Although outgoing Councilman Lane Penn said he would like to see employees be able to reach their top pay in fewer than eight years, the Town Council voted unanimously to begin using the plan.
Hawley said it would have been too much of a burden on each year’s budget to have reduced the number of years to reach top pay.
Under the compensation plan, new employees would receive salaries ranging from $21,461 to $40,722 per year, depending upon their grade rating.
Eight years later, those same employees would have pay ranging from $29,834 to $64,905 per year.
Hawley said it will take at least two years to get each employee’s pay adjusted to the “appropriate step.”
The town also made some adjustments in its employee base.
A manager’s position in the Engineering Department will remain vacant this year. However, some new positions will be added: a manager position in Human Resources and Payroll, a parks maintenance technician, and a part-time position in Code Compliance. The new parks position is being partially offset by a reduction in part-time staff in the parks department.
Hawley pointed out that the town’s water fund will remain balanced at current rates this year, but the sewer fund may be a different situation.
Presently, all but about $100,000 in increased treatment charges from Peppers Ferry Regional Wastewater Treatment Authority can be covered under the existing sewer charges. Unfortunately, he said an in-year increase may become necessary at a later date “if costs are not held down.”
As with everyone else, the increased fuel costs also are putting a pinch on the upcoming budget.
“All funds are faced with rising fuel costs and the cost of electricity and other energy sources,” Hawley stated in his budget message to the town council. “We continue as a staff to work on methods to offset these rises and feel the proposed budget reflects our best estimate of costs.”

Despite the revenue shortfalls that had to be addressed, Hawley said there is “hope” for a “solid year” in the town as the result of “positive actions” such as the return of baseball, completion of the trail extension, Gatewood Park facilities and the opening of several new businesses.
He said the town staff is “ready to work” with new Mayor Jeff Worrell, the town council and town residents “in making Pulaski the best it can be with this proposed budget.”