WALKER — The City Council, at its regular meeting on Dec. 11, unanimously approved the city’s 2018 budget that anticipates the expenditure of approximately $13 million in the general fund.
Chief of Operations Jamie Etheridge presented the budget to the council, noting that the budget includes funds for construction of a safe house that will cost approximately $4 million with most of the cost, about $3 million, coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The city will contribute about $1 million to the project.
The general fund budget has revenue projections from the 1-cent sales tax at $2.98 million. And additional $4.1 million is anticipated through the budget item identified as intergovernmental. This is the fund from which the Safe House will be built. Additional revenue from fines and forfeits, licenses and permits, various fees, concessions and smaller income streams brings the base total for the general fund to about $8.5 million
Additionally, about $4.5 million will be transferred from the enterprise fund, the account generated by the city’s utilities departments, to make up the $13 million in the general fund.
The largest anticipated spending item in the coming year will be capital outlay expenses, which accounts for about $5.8 million. The Police Department is budgeted at $2.4 million and the Street Department at approximately $2.1 million. Animal Control will be funded with $257,380 and the Parks and Recreation Department will have a budget of $345,800.
Etheridge said plans for the safe house, which will be built at Sydney Hutchinson Park, are underway. The design phase will take about four to five months, and construction, once a contract is awarded, will start later in the year. He anticipates that the facility, which the city will use for various purposes, will be completed late in the next year.
Walker also realizes about $1.25 million from a special half-cent sale tax, and those funds can be used only for sewer system and road projects.
The city anticipates total operating revenues in the enterprise fund at almost $9 million. The Gas Department is budgeted for about $3.1 million in operating costs, while the Sewer Department has a budget of $1.2 million and the Water Department is budgeted at $1.1 million.
The budget for 2018 closely mirrors that of the current year, with the most significant increase coming from the FEMA grant for construction of the safe house.
At the same meeting, the council tabled a request for re-subdividing in the Pleasant Ridge Estates area on the corner of Pleasant Ridge Drive and Pendarvis Lane. The property owner, Jeff Pendleton, had asked the city’s Planning and Zoning Board to approved the resubdivision, but that request was denied when residents objected to the move.
On appeal to the City Council, Pendleton said he wanted to subdivide the property into three lots and that he had not anticipated any opposition from residents. Pendleton said he was surprised when those residents showed up at the Planning and Zoning Board with a petition to deny the resubdivision. He said he had followed all codes and ordinances in making his request and was surprised that residents “came here all emotionally charged up with fears for something I did not plan to do.”
City Attorney Bobby King recommended that the council table the matter so each council member could more carefully study the issue before making a decision at the council’s next meeting on Jan. 8, and the council followed his advice.