MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) - The Murfreesboro City Council is considering a property tax increase for the first time in two decades because of infrastructure and need for services.
The reality of the need for increased revenues was a major topic of discussion by members of the City Council during a special budget meeting held Thursday.
While growth provides jobs and expanding lifestyle amenities, it also requires additional government resources to enhance infrastructure such as roadways, utilities and schools that have recently required the city to use the city’s unrestricted Fund Balance to balance expenses and revenue. City police requires that the fund balance remain at 15%-30% of the city’s operating revenues.
The Council and city staff have sought to make reductions in the budget, including a 10% across-the-board reduction by most departments.
“At this point, no amount of budget reduction, other than eliminating entire departments or critical programs that greatly benefit the community, would accomplish the goal of eliminating use of the General Fund fund balance to supplant annual revenues in the budget,” said Mayor Shane McFarland in a news release. “Even eliminating entire aspects of city services would not accomplish a balanced budget unless the service involved a major aspect of the city’s current services, such as schools.”
The city currently has more than 1,000 employees.
To continue to provide services at the level citizens expect, city staff has identified around $4 million in FY2020 supplemental funding requests. The requests were prioritized into a proposed funding for next year of around $2 million.
Priority includes hiring an additional 12 police officers, returning part-time Parks employees staffing to FY2018 levels, economic development services and other expenditures critical to providing excellent customer service and addressing the needs of a growing community.
“Managing rapid population growth and providing the infrastructure and service that growth entails challenges the balance of revenues and expenses. It is imperative to pay close attention to both parts of the equation. Neither part can be ignored over the long term.” said City Manager Craig Tindall in a news release. “Municipalities must carefully structure their budgets - both revenue and expenditures - in order to maintain a health financial condition. Currently, the City is financially solid, but we must recognize where growth is driving our finances and respond accordingly.”