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TENNIS COURTS TO BE BUILT IN ETOWN

E'town adopts $57M budget
By MARTY FINLEY
mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com
Fresh off announcing his bid for mayor, Elizabethtown Councilman Steve Atcher provided the lone no vote during the second reading of the city’s 2010-11 budget.
The budget as proposed was adopted 4-1 during Monday’s regular meeting. Councilman Ron Thomas abstained.
Both largely supported the budget plan, but the inclusion of $29 million in bonding for the Elizabethtown Sports Park dissuaded either from providing a supporting vote.
Atcher and Thomas have found themselves at odds with the council in recent weeks after publicly opposing a construction and management agreement with the Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Bureau naming the restaurant tax as financing source for the bonds.
They said they cannot support the levels of debt set forth in the agreement.
Atcher also has vowed to oppose any expenses paid for by the restaurant tax.
“I’m being consistent,” Atcher told the council Monday before voting against the budget.
Appropriations for general government, debt service, water, sewer and gas utilities, and the ETCB is estimated at $57 million under the plan, which is roughly $3 million smaller than last year’s spending plan and $10 million smaller than the 2008 budget.
Mayor David Willmoth has said the slimmer budget is indicative of a reduction in natural gas prices.
But the budget also includes the $29 million bond issue for the Elizabethtown Sports Park and nearly $20 million in capital projects, so the overall budget finishes at about $105 million.
The city also is staring at a $3.3 million deficit in its general fund because of the extension of West Park Road, estimated at $2.5 million, and construction of tennis courts at Freeman Lake Park, which will cost about $700,000.
Finance Director Steve Park said the city could have used short-term financing to balance the budget, but it was more conducive to tap the city’s reserves for the expenses and avoid extra borrowing. The city has roughly $18 million in reserves, Park said.
The city’s construction- in-progress fund will provide $800,000 to cover the remaining costs of the City Springs Water Plant. A $1 million state grant covered more than half of the cost.
In addition, the construction-in-progress fund includes $18 million for expansion of the Wastewater Treatment Plant and sewer outfall line construction. The city originally planned to finance the entire project through a low-interest Kentucky Infrastructure Authority loan, but it received a $20 million state economic development grant, which was awarded as part of Base Realignment and Closure funding.
Expansion of the plant is mandated by the state because it is approaching 90 percent capacity.
Two firefighters also will be added as part of the budget, and the city will replace seven vehicles in the police department's fleet this year, all of which will be equipped with mobile data terminals.
Public works plans to expand its resurfacing efforts with $400,000 from the general fund. Coupled with municipal aid road funding, the $765,000 in appropriations will be the largest ever requested for resurfacing, according to the budget.
Also included is $1.65 million in stormwater construction, which includes projects on Freeman Creek and Hawkins Drive and a culvert on Johnstown Road.
Meanwhile, city employees will receive a 3 percent pay increase and the mayor and city council members will receive a 2.72 percent increases.
The city also is requesting a one-time infusion of $1,200 per employee to offset a deficit in the city’s self-insured health plan. Park said the city has weathered a tough year under the plan after several years of success, with the deficit hovering around $300,000.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.
 
 
 

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