Springfield to ‘sell’ the city, water

Springfield city leaders spent about an hour in a work session on Tuesday, May 7, reviewing the city’s proposed $86 million budget for Fiscal Year 2020.

Springfield City Manager Gina Holt reviewed some of the major highlights of the budget draft with the aldermen, mayor and department heads providing input.

Alderman Clay Sneed was not present.

In the City of Springfield’s annual budget report, Holt is suggesting a 25-percent rate hike for stormwater, an eight-percent increase for water and a two-percent rate increase for sewer.

In October, a 1.5-percent rate increase is anticipated from TVA.

There is no property tax increase proposed. The rate will remain at $1.072 per $100 of taxable assessed value. All other rates are projected to remain the same.

The total funds budgeted for revenue in the draft for the General Fund and all of the city’s utilities is $86,077,200, with the expenditures projected to be $86,138,188.

Two new fulltime positions are planned for the coming year in Springfield, including a public affairs coordinator and a senior accountant.

During Tuesday’s work session, Holt told board members that the public relations hire would be responsible for constituent services, with inquiries from clients and would also be responsible for working with economic development.

The position would begin in January of next year.

Holt said in the 28 years she’s worked with the city, the finance department has had no additions to personnel, though its demands have grown through the years.

Alderman Tim Harris said he would prefer the PR position to begin as soon as possible, instead of waiting until next year.

“We’ve got to do some things to sell this city,” Harris said. “We need to spend some money to get some money. I would suggest we put this position (at the beginning) of this next fiscal year and not wait half a year.”

It was Harris who proposed the new position during the city’s strategic planning session in February.

“We need to go on and get this done,” Harris said. “We need to make this person a part of this budget.”

The aldermen also shared concern with how to sell water to other areas once the Logan Todd Regional Water Commission’s construction project of putting in its 24-inch water line is complete and the city begins purchasing water in January of 2020.

Holt said in the contract with Logan-Todd, the city will be required to purchase 2.3 million gallons of water per day at a rate of $3.29 per 1,000 gallons.

In the draft, she has budgeted $1,380,000 in expenditures for six-months of purchasing the water.

The following budget year, a full 12 months of purchasing the water, the city is anticipating paying about $2.8 million for the full year.

In purchasing the water from the Logan Todd Regional Water Commission, the city will have more than its one source of water, which is the Red River. The water from the Cumberland River will be added.

Terry Beers, director of water and wastewater, said in the past with just one source, there have been a few occasions when Springfield Water customers have come close to running out of water.

“That’s one of the reasons we looked for an alternate source,” Beers said.

Holt said the city is anticipating the completion of the hydraulic study by the end of May, which will provide information on where and when the city needs to upgrade its infrastructure, which will help in plans to sell the water.

Several aldermen commended Holt and others for putting together a conservative draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Alderman Jeff Gragg called it a “bare boned” draft and said he didn’t see many places to make any cuts.

The board did not vote Tuesday during the city work session.

The first of three readings required on an ordinance adopting the annual budget and tax rate for Fiscal Year 2020, which begins July 1, will take place on Tuesday, May 21, during the Springfield Board of Mayor and Alderman’s regular meeting.

The second reading and public hearing is scheduled for June 18. The third and final reading is slated for Thursday, June 27, at noon.

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