The City Council approved a $127.4 million budget for fiscal 2015 with no property tax increase but a 3.5 percent step increase for full-time employees, including the city manager.
Council members also set the new certified tax rate at $1.2015 per $100 of property value, down from $1.2703, following a countywide reappraisal that is required to be revenue-neutral.
The budget spending plan is a 4.3 percent increase over this year’s figure and calls for hiring 10 new full-time positions and several part-time employees. It must be approved on two more votes before taking effect July 1.
Three new police officers are to be hired for a Directed Patrol Unit to fight neighborhood crime. New positions include a head tennis professional, operations coordinator and two assistant operations coordinators to run an indoor tennis complex that is being built in conjunction with MTSU.
City Manager Rob Lyons also recommended a Finance Department accountant and information systems analyst in the Information and Technology Department and a facilities supervisor to oversee maintenance of building and plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems.
The budget plan recommends using $4.8 million from the fund balance. But even though city revenue is expected to be $558,776 less than budget for this year, the city general fund spent $7.84 million less than budgeted.
The general fund balance also decreased $135,000 but ended the year with $52.6 million in reserve, 47 percent of one year’s revenues needed to meet obligations.
Most discussion at Thursday night’s meeting focused on pay increases for employees. The proposed increase initially excluded Lyons, who cannot recommend his own pay increase, and 79 employees who topped out on the city’s pay plan.
The city is to complete a comprehensive pay plan next fiscal year, but council members decided to move ahead with a one-time 2 percent increase for those employees that will cost the city about $88,000 and opted to give Lyons a 3.5 percent increase. His salary is more than $155,000 annually.
Councilman Ron Washington, who called for the raise for Lyons, pointed out that he has great responsibilities as city manager.
“Why not treat him the same?” Washington said.
Capital expenditures in next year’s budget include:
• Information Technology: $135,640 to replace more than 100 aging computers.
• Police Department: $38,400 for four night rifle scopes with night vision.
• Fire & Rescue Department: $28,000 for 17 vehicle modems.
• Parks and Recreation Department: $2.05 million to acquire land and construct phase IV of Stones River Greenway from Barfield Crescent Park to state Route 99 (New Salem Highway). (80 percent from state grant and 20 percent from borrowed funds)
• Parks and Recreation: $1.87 million for indoor tennis facility, matched with donations and pledges from MTSU and the Christy-Houston Foundation. The city borrowed $2.7 million to fund its portion of the facility.
• The police department bought the vacant Murfreesboro Medical Clinic building on Highland Avenue for $4 million and plans are to remodel it over the next two years to house all police operations in one location, leaving several city buildings open for other departments. Remodeling is budgeted at $22.4 million.
• $11.6 million is budgeted for police communications, towers and various other information technology software and equipment replacements.