There were no objections to the proposed fiscal year 2021 Norris city budget of $1.866 million during a virtual public hearing Monday night (June 1), so the final reading of the budget ordinance will be up for a vote next Monday night.
City Manager Scott Hackler said the June council meeting, at 7 p.m. Monday, June 8, will be held electronically, just as last month’s meeting and this week’s budget hearing, Planning Commission meeting and Beer Board meeting.
The Planning Commission met at 6:30 p.m. Monday to approve an application by Docks and More to open its store in a former steakhouse building at 3360 Andersonville Highway, behind the Liquor Depot.
Hackler said the company sells, installs and maintains docks on Norris Lake, and is opening a storefront so it can sell supplies and hardware to people who want to perform their own maintenance. The company is managed by Kayla Pyle.
According to its website, mydocksandmore.com, it is “a family owned company that serves Norris Lake and the surrounding areas. At Docks and More, dock building is our specialty.”
The Norris Beer Board, which comprises all of the City Council members, met electronically at 7 p.m., and unanimously approved an application by Gametime Pizza & Subs at 3332 Andersonville Highway for on-premises sale and consumption of beer.
The new owners of the business, which formerly also sold tobacco products, have opened a dining room and moved out the tobacco side of the business. It already was licensed for sale of beer for off-premises consumption, but now diners will be able to have beer with their meals in-house.
As for the new budget, it’s all set except for the actual property tax rate, which Hackler said the city expects to get from the state sometime this week.
“We will go with the certified rate the state gives us to make it revenue-neutral,” he said.
In effect, Norris plans to keep its current property tax rate in the fiscal year beginning July 1, according to the 2021 budget the City Council passed on first reading during its virtual meeting May 11.
The city’s property tax rate is now $1.78 per $100 of assessment. That figure should be lowered slightly in light of this year’s state-mandated 10-year property re-appraisal process that resulted in higher assessed values for many properties.
But the resulting tax bills should remain the same. Under the state’s rules regarding reassessments, they must be “revenue neutral,” which means that counties, cities and other taxing authorities must adjust their actual tax rates so they are not collecting more taxes simply because property values went up under the new assessments.
The $1.866 million budget for the new year beginning July 1 compares with $1.237 million in expenditures approved for the current budget year. The big boost in the new budget will be paid for mostly by state grants to cover sidewalk improvements. The new budget anticipates the city receiving $645,868 from the state, compared with just $220,000 in the current budget.
Construction on the East Norris sidewalk improvements has begun and is expected to be completed in August, Hackler said. The $347,000 project will construct sidewalks along East Norris Road from Dairy Pond Road to Andersonville Highway (Tennessee Route 61), and “loop into the parking area of the shopping center,” he said. “There will be pedestrian signals at the traffic light.”
Still pending is the Safe Routes to Schools sidewalk project, which also is expected to begin during the coming budget year. It runs “from the post office around to the bus circle in front of the middle school, and there will be a portion that runs across the back of the library” for access for disabled people under federal ADA rules, Hackler said. He added that it “will be several months before we start, but it should begin in this new fiscal year.”
The new budget calls for some staff raises and a 2-percent cost-of-living adjustment for city employees, Hackler said. That would increase the city payroll to $543,000 for the new year, up from $530,000 this year.
The new budget anticipates local tax revenues totaling $965,500, compared with $945,498 that was estimated for the current fiscal year ending June 30.