Committee of the Whole sends budget on to city council

Budget was the main focus in a meeting of the Hopkinsville Committee of the Whole Thursday evening, and the committee voted to send the spending plan on to City Council for consideration.

The $38.5 million budget requires departments to make four percent cuts to operations, while anticipating a seven percent drop in payroll tax revenue. The budget, including pay roll taxes, have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Wendell Lynch clarified that the budget changed slightly since his proposal last week, including the recent cancellations of some events that will save some dollars in the long run.

Chief Financial Officer Robert Martin says it’s been very difficult to make projections in the current circumstances—they’re expecting a deficit of around $450,000—but due to some new contracts and other items, the city’s expenditures have decreased.

Martin is projecting a 20 percent decrease in payroll tax in July from 2019, a 15 percent drop in August, 10 percent in September and five percent drop in the following months. The budget also includes a recommendation for a property tax rate increase that will bring in an additional four percent in revenue. Departments requested $3 million out of the capital budget, but only $1.2 million of those requests were funded.

City Council member Travis Martin proposed removing the 2.3 percent cost of living raise for employees from the proposal due to the impacts of the pandemic.

The motion was amended to lower the 2.3 percent increase to 1.25 percent following discussion, which would be a reduction of about $206,420, passing 8 to 3. Councilmembers Darvin Adams, Patricia Bell and Terry Parker voted no. Council then voted unanimously to forward both the operational and capital budgets on to city council, including amendments.