The East Ridge City Council met Saturday morning from a recessed meeting and passed on first reading its 2015-16 fiscal year budget.
The proposed $10.7 million budget is a decrease of almost half a million dollars (minus the development incentives of $4 million) from the previous year’s budget, officials said. The proposed budget anticipates an excess fund balance of $338,000.
The Council will meet on June 10 at 11 a.m. in a special called meeting to tweak individual line items and possibly discuss giving employees raises and a Christmas Bonus. The council may also consider the issue of a beer permit variance for a restaurant that intends to open at the old Ryan’s location on Rinngold Road during the meeting.
“The thing we need to get the salaries in there before we vote on the contract,” said Councilman Denny Manning.
Vice Mayor Marc Gravitt suggested that the council be allowed to e-mail questions to city staff in regard to budget line items.
“That way staff will have time to respond so we can facilitate it,” Gravitt said. “There’s nothing in the charter that prohibits us asking staff questions outside of a public meeting.”
Councilman Jacky Cagle held up a list of proposals that he had for the new budget. He said these discussions should be held in an open meeting, on which everyone agreed.
“I don’t want to be called being in the back room again,” Manning said.
The council decided to renew a contract with the City of Ridgeside to provide fire and police protection. In addition, East Ridge will provide Ridgeside with code enforcement services. Mayor Janet Jobe had appeared during the Thursday night meeting and told the council that there are a couple homes within the City of Ridgeside that may not conform to its city codes concerning multi-family use. East Ridge will charge Ridgeside $98,311 for the service.
The council directed staff to get additional bids on an insurance broker for the city. City Manager Andrew Hyatt had hired a new broker, Tim White of Benefits Inc., out of Middle Tennessee to solicit bids for insurance. White came back with a proposal from BlueCross/Blue Shield that would reduce costs and provide the same benefits to employees. Last month, several council members had reservations that having White’s business headquartered out of the immediate area may present problems.
The city is under a June 30 deadline to select its insurance carrier. Hyatt said if a new carrier is not selected, the current insurance with BCBS would automatically renew with an increase of about $225,000.
The last item discussed was Hyatt’s contract, which expires at the end of June. Hyatt requested the council table the issue until the June 16 meeting. Hyatt said he would provide information to the council on “where I stand and what I’m expecting.”
“That would be in my best interest and in the best interest of the city,” he said.
The council meetings for the month of June have been rescheduled, as several board members have conflicts. The currently scheduled council meetings of June 11 and 25 have been rescheduled for June 16 and 30. Those meetings will be held in the Community Center, officials said, at 6 p.m.