Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown

Brown

Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown has unveiled a $43.3 million city budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes a raise for city employees, more than $4 million in funding for various capital projects and no tax increase.

The proposed spending plan, unveiled to the public Tuesday, represents a nearly 13 percent increase in overall spending from the previous status quo “pandemic budget” presented last year. It would also leave the city with a $7.7 million rainy day fund along with additional $6.6 million in reserve funds.

The budget, according to Brown, will help position the city “very well” for the future.

“I’m looking forward to accomplishing a lot of great things in the coming year,” Brown told the Gallatin News. “We’re in a really good position, especially considering the past year and how hard it has been on some other cities. It should be reassuring for citizens that our revenue is supporting our expenses.”

Included in the proposed budget would be $4.67 million for various capital projects and purchases, including $1 million for paving; $500,000 for police vehicles and accessories; $318,000 for personal protective equipment for the fire department; and $197,000 for technology equipment.

Among the funding included specifically for the city’s park and recreation department would include $90,000 for playground equipment at Clearview Park; $80,000 for repairs at Municipal Park; $80,000 for Thompson Park renovations; and $10,000 for improvements at Triple Creek Park.

The city would also add 10 new positions during the upcoming year – three police officers, a stormwater project manager and a codes inspector along with three new positions at public works and two at parks and recreation, according to the budget presentation Tuesday.

“I feel really good about what is there, and I feel like we’re getting a lot done,” Brown told officials about the items being funded.

In addition to a 2.5 percent cost of living increase for city workers – a total cost of $690,810 – Brown also included money in the budget to perform a new comprehensive pay study within the next year for all city departments, including public safety.

According to the results of an employee survey conducted by the city’s human resources department earlier this year, 53 percent of the 292 people who responded said they do not feel the city has competitive wages. The fire department was the most unhappy with nearly 98 percent saying the city is not competitive with pay.

“It is time, so that we may remain competitive both with our private sector market and our public sector neighbors, to do another pay study,” Brown said Tuesday.

The proposed budget would also include $258,500 in funding for various community enhancement grants for 20 local organizations and nonprofits. Last year, the city distributed $236,000 as part of the program.

Gallatin’s property tax rate is expected to remain at 80 cents per $100 of assessed value. It was last changed in 2019 when city leaders reduced the amount from 99 cents following a mass reappraisal of all property in the county.

The Gallatin City Council is scheduled to take an initial vote on the proposed budget and property tax rate during its next meeting on Tuesday, May 18. The city’s 2021-22 fiscal year starts July 1.

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