Henderson City Manager Unveils Budget Shortfalls

May 9, 2011 – Reporter: Leigh Hester

Due to decreasing revenues and rising city costs in fuels and employee health insurance, the City Manager is preparing a proposed budget for the City Council’s review. This “Survival Budget,” as he called it, would potentially raise water rates by 5% and corresponding sewer rates by 5% as well. Currently, sewer rates for customers outside of city limits are significantly higher than in nearby Oxford, and in Warren and Franklin Counties.

Sanitation fees may also rise. They currently account for about 20 cents of the property tax rate.

The water rates and sanitation fees are the only discretionary income sources available to the city to raise funds for essential services such as police, 911, and EMS, as well as Planning, Zoning, and City Administration.

Currently the City budget, which must by law remain balanced, is projected at an $85,000 shortfall.

City Police Chief Keith Sidwell is working to cut ten funded but unfilled positions within the Henderson Police Department in order to raise starting wages as well as increase wages for officers currently working with the city. With neighboring towns able to offer significantly more money, Henderson is losing experienced officers and finding difficulty attracting new officers to fill positions. The change will not require additional budget money from the city but will reduce the number of officers available to Henderson.

In other news, the council voted unanimously to recognize the week of May 8-14 as “Nursing Home Week”, encouraging Henderson residents to visit nursing home residents or send them flowers so that they know they are not forgotten.

Mayor O’Geary also personally presented Davis Chapel Baptist Church with a plaque of recognition for outstanding service to Henderson via their community outreach efforts, including a clothes and food pantry, school supply giveaway, and street clean-up efforts. Reverend Charles Turrentine was unable to attend, but his wife, daughter and two sons were in attendance to accept the plaque.