The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman voted to slash funding to special programs before passing next year’s budget.
It follows weeks of debate by the BMA as they tried to fix a more than $600,000 budget shortfall.
The One Kingsport initiative, originally up for funding cuts, was spared.
A majority of the 20 percent, across the board funding cut impacts Kingsport Chamber programs – things like “Move to Kingsport” and “Keep Kingsport Beautiful.”
The Chamber chairman told us, that’s obviously not an easy pill to swallow, but the cuts didn’t come as a complete shock, and the programs they’re offering, won’t go away as a result.
It’s no secret, Kingsport leaders have been grappling with trying to fill a budget shortfall for weeks. Tuesday night’s Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting brought a final decision, but the vote made it clear – opinions of how to do that were split.
“We had four alderman that voted in favor of the budget and 3 who voted against it,” said Mayor John Clark.
The majority voted to slash some funding to special programs, but about $245,000 for another iniative called One Kingsport that city leaders initially thought they would have to cut back on too, was restored. That’s thanks to a debt service payment for public housing renovations, delayed until next budget cycle.
“The board approved taking that money and applying them to the One Kingsport funding for the next 12 months,” Clark said.
Meaning the One Kingsport projects, which include investing in Bays Mountain and redeveloping the riverfront, can move forward for the next year.
But at the same time, Kingsport Chamber Chairman Bob Feathers said of the cuts, “Although they’re painful we think we can mitigate that.”
Feathers says they’ll soon have to make adjustments to account for the funding cuts, now looking toward grants or other outside partners.
“One that I think a lot of folks really enjoy are the concert series, and that’s administered through Visit Kingsport, and we’re going to see a reduction in at least one or two of those concerts coming up in the next year,” said Feathers.
It’s an issue Feathers admittedly anticipated, and one the mayor made clear he didn’t want to see.
Still, when we asked him why it was so important to continue funding the One Kingsport projects instead of allocating that money toward the special programs, Clark said, “That’s a good question. The One Kingsport projects are larger projects. I think they impact more people possibly and they are bigger projects that can help define our city.”
The board did approve the balanced budget Tuesday night. it does not include a property tax increase. The budget takes effect July 1.
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