Hopkinsville City Council’s committee of the whole had much discussion over Hopkinsville Mayor J.R. Knight Jr.’s proposed 2023-2024 budget during its meeting on Thursday, but ultimately decided to forward the $47,444,241 budget to the council for approval.
The committee failed to pass a measure proposed by council member Natasha Sophia Francis to increase the operational budget to $48 million — a move that would add another $555,579 in the mayor’s budget and would provide for several increases proposed by Frances, including $100,000 to the Legacy Hopkinsville program and $10,000 to Downtown Renaissance.
Legacy already is receiving a $25,000 increase in the current proposed budget, officials said.
Officials questioned what would happen if revenue projections did not meet the $48 million proposed by Francis, and Chief Financial Officer Melissa Clayton noted that she was not comfortable with raising revenues any higher than the city had already projected.
“I feel like we have pushed the revenues as far as we can for this year’s budget, and I’m just not comfortable raising it any higher,” Clayton said during the recent committee meeting.
Committee members also rejected a motion by council member Doug Wilcox to raise the budget on revenues by $196,108, with only three council members voting for that measure.
The committee did approve a measure to reduce the salary funds for one line item, which left an additional $5,972 that committee members unanimously agreed to move to surplus.
In giving her presentation to the committee, Clayton said the budget includes $117,000 for the annual Summer Salute festival, in addition to the $125,000 allotted for that event last year.
“That is the two-night headliner,” she noted. “We’re also planning some extra activities on Summer Salute. We want to make it a complete downtown destination.
“We’re going to have kids’ activities,” the finance officer continued, as she described the event. “We’re planning some extra money for that to partner with some of our local businesses down here to really make Summer Salute a full-on (event), better than it was.”
Among other things, Clayton also noted that the Bluegrass Splash Family Aquatic Center is increasing 145%, or $242,950, to reflect a full year of operation.
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“This year we only budgeted half, and next year we’re budgeting for a full year of operations, and so it has some increases in the amounts for that,” she said.
Clayton shared revenue projections that she said include no tax increases for the year.
Those projections include an increase of $681,766 in payroll taxes over this year’s actuals, $117,673 over this year’s actuals in insurance premium taxes, an increase of $216,600 in property taxes based on 2022-2023 actuals and, in one use of prior-year revenue that Clayton said has been planned, $173,909 for the purchase of police body cameras.
Clayton said the 2023-2024 budget is a balanced budget, meaning that revenues match expenses in the general fund at $47,444,241. The Medical Reimbursement Account fund is also balanced, with revenues and expenses both at $683,722. The city’s capital fund has revenues of $2,096,693 and expenses of $2,093,909, leaving a surplus of $2,784.
The 2023-24 budget includes a 6.5% raise for city employees.
Finance Coordinator Gary Ruebush also on Thursday presented the city’s 2023-2024 capital budget to the committee of the whole, noting that a $3,476,571 budget had been requested, while the recommendation from the administration team for that budget was $2,093,909.
He noted that the recommendation included $70,000 each for administration and information technology, $473,909 for the Hopkinsville Police Department, $320,000 for the Hopkinsville Fire Department, $470,000 for city maintenance, $140,000 for the city’s Division of Parks and Recreation and $550,000 for buildings and properties.
The committee voted to forward the new capital budget to the council.
In other business:
- The committee voted to forward an operational budget amendment totaling $3,017,000 and a $293,000 capital budget amendment to the city council. The capital budget amendment included roof replacements for the old First City Bank, the Clay Street Warehouse and Thomas Gates Pavilion and a fence replacement and tree trimming for Trail of Tears Park.
- Committee members heard from Hopkinsville Fire Chief Steve Futrell, who reported 899 fire incidents in the first quarter of 2023 and 37 fires, including six structural house fires. Additionally, the Hopkinsville Fire Department responded to 55 motor vehicle collisions with injuries and another 12 without injuries. The department’s Emergency Medical Services also served 2,736 patients during the first quarter, according to the fire chief.
- The committee agreed to forward to the city council a proposed road and sidewalk maintenance inter-local agreement between the city and Christian County that City Attorney Doug Willen said will allow the city and county to share resources to reduce red tape, expedite projects and save taxpayer money.
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