BRISTOL, Tenn. — Bristol, Tennessee’s fiscal year 2021 budget is balanced and will not require a property tax increase to make up for revenue lost due to COVID-19, but the city will have to draw nearly $400,000 from its general fund.
That was the message Monday from City Manager Bill Sorah, who gave a presentation on the proposed spending plan to City Council during a called work session.
The pandemic has impacted all the city’s major revenue streams, including sales, property and occupancy taxes. Local option sales tax revenue for fiscal year 2020 is expected to come in $550,000 less than budgeted, property taxes about $310,000 less than expected and occupancy taxes $90,000 less.
Once people are comfortable getting out and shopping again, Sorah said he expects the city’s sales tax revenues will start to improve. Ideally, sales tax revenue will be back to normal around the beginning of fiscal year 2022, he added.
“I think we’re still well positioned financially to close out this year and next year,” Sorah said.
As it stands, the proposed budget totals $135.5 million, an increase of $14.4 million, or 12% from the current budget. Under the plan, the property tax rate will be set at the current level of $2.16 per $100 of assessed value. The city is also expected to draw $384,000 from its general fund balance, which currently totals $15.4 million.
The city’s portion of the budget totals $73.6 million, an increase of $11.6 million, or 19% from the previous year. Planned projects for 2021 include the design phase of the Beaver Creek South Greenway Project, reconstruction of a section of East Cedar Street, relocation of Island Road and an expansion to the Steele Creek Nature Center. About $97,000 is budgeted by the city to help pay for school resource officers at the city’s five elementary schools.
Funding for the school district would total $61.9 million, an increase of nearly $3 million from the 2020 fiscal year budget.
City Council is set to vote on first reading of the 2021 budget at tonight’s regular meeting. It will be broadcast at 7 p.m. over the city’s YouTube channel and Bristol Tennessee Essential Services channel 16 or Charter channel 192.