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Board approves city’s budget on final reading

Emily Elliott’s last meeting will be June 14

The Bartlett Board of Mayor and Aldermen on May 24 approved the city’s fiscal 2023 budget and a property tax rate of $1.73 per $100 of assessed value, a decrease from the existing rate of $1.75.

The two ordinances passed unanimously on third and final reading. The budget ordinance had been amended to include the Bartlett City Schools (BCS) system budget.

The city’s $63.25 million General Fund budget calls for a 4 percent raise for all full-time employees in all departments, no increase in water or sewage fees, and no money coming from reserves to balance the budget.

The $92.49 million BCS budget uses $2 million from reserves to balance, but the system maintains a $39.6 million fund balance of which $4.721 million is unassigned. The City of Bartlett funds about 3 percent of the school system’s budget, which is mostly funded by the state of Tennessee and Shelby County government.

Mayor Keith McDonald and finance director Dick Phebus thanked County Commissioner Mick Wright, who represents Bartlett and was in attendance at the board’s meeting May 24, for helping secure a $100,000 Community Enhancement Program grant from Shelby County. More than half ($55,000) the funds will be used by the Bartlett Police Department to buy security cameras for city parks. The remaining $45,000 will be used by the Parks Department for paving at Deerfield Park.

No one from the public spoke against the budget and property tax rate ordinances during the public hearing period, but two residents later asked for the board’s help in curbing the purchase of Bartlett homes by investment groups, many of them operating from outside Tennessee, who then rent the properties out.

McDonald said the board has talked with the city attorney about possible solutions, but admitted “our hands are tied to a large extent.” He said some ideas will be brought forth at the next board meeting on June 14.

And board member Emily Elliott, who has represented the city on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for 23 years, announced that June 14 meeting would be her last. She emotionally said how proud she has been to be a part of Bartlett’s growth over those years and is most proud of establishing the First Responders Memorial at Appling Lake.

The board of aldermen will interview candidates and plans by July to vote on a replacement for Elliott in Position 2 for the remainder of this year. A new alderman for Position 2 – as well as aldermen for Positions 1 and 3 – will be elected on Aug. 8 for four-year terms beginning in January 2023.

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