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Town wraps up budget workshops


Ralph Dimmick urged Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen to make a decision regarding the purchase of his property, situated between McFee Park and the newly-purchased Seal property, at a Board budget workshop, Wednesday, May 13.

“The property has a great deal of strategic value to the Town,” Dimmick said.

“We would like to move on it right away,” he added, saying if the Town decided not to act, he would like to put it on the market for other buyers.


The former Board named Town Attorney Tom Hale as a negotiator with Dimmick, and although no formal numbers have been named, Dimmick said, “We are really pretty close … we can reach an agreement.”

Later in the meeting, the Board asked that money be moved to the land acquisition fund to cover the possibility of purchasing the land.

“Sometimes opportunities just fall in your lap … I would favor apportioning that money even in the current economic environment,” Alderman John Williams said.

Although the Board looked at two versions of the budget, one from Budget and Finance Director Dan Olson and the other from the rest of the Town staff, they ultimately asked that only the staff prepare a final draft.

“Is that OK with you?” Williams asked Olson.

“Sure. I’m done now,” Olson said.

As directed at the May 4 budget workshop, staff zeroed out the debt service fund and the insurance fund and decreased money in the road fund, which put around $3 million in the general fund, to be appropriated elsewhere.

The Board retained approximately $1.5 million, which totals about 30 percent of operating costs, in the general fund as “rainy day” money.

The Board also discussed priority projects for the remaining $1.5 million, including paying legal fees above what had been budgeted in the previous fiscal year, funding charitable donations, funding Town staff merit increases and bonuses and partially funding the KAT request for the Farragut Express.

In an item related to bus funding, the Board discussed the park and ride lot off Campbell Station Road. The Town owns only part of the parking lot and has an easement to use the rest from the former owners of Campbell Station Wine and Spirits.

That contract expires this year, and the Town is renegotiating with the store’s new owners.

“This is an incredibly expensive subsidy to relatively few residents of Farragut,” Williams said, commenting on the Farragut Express, adding whatever the Town spent on the park and ride lot should be included in the total funding they award to KAT.

“But we ought to do something that keeps this service running because we will need it in the future,” he added.

The Board also set aside money to fully fund charitable contributions the Town currently meets, as well as for the possibility of new requests.

“We’ve always had too much negativity that ‘We’re not in the school business’ and I think we should continue to fund our schools,” Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche said.

The Board asked for a $50,000 line item for community donations and a $52,000 line item for school donations.

The Board also left money in the general fund to allow for other unexpected contingencies, as well as for possible involvement in repairing drainage system problems at The Farm at Willow Creek.

Mayor Ralph McGill also asked that about $50,000 be set aside for new “Welcome to Farragut” signs at major Town entrances, signs that would resemble the Town’s iconic stacked-stone park signs.

“I think it’s a good idea for us to pursue something uniform and nice,” he said.

No formal action was taken on the budget at the workshop; the Board will vote on adopting the final draft of the budget at its June meetings.

 

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