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Graham Said Insurance Costs A Concern

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

Crossville City Council members took their first look at the city’s $17.6 million budget last week.

Call it a budget process full of uncertainty. Crossville City Council Member J.H. Graham III said financial questions surrounding COVID-19 make that process difficult.

“No one I know of has a crystal ball,” Graham said. “We’ve never been through this before in my time, as far as the economy is concerned.”

Graham led other council members in questioning the first draft of health insurance numbers presented to the council. City administrators plan to update those numbers before the council’s next work session this week.

“The health insurers across this nation have taken it on the nose, as well as the hospitals going bankrupt,” Graham said. “The reason I questioned healthcare cost is that, out of a the budget we have, our health insurance costs, as I recall, are around $1.2 to $1.3 million dollars, so a 10 percent increase would be $120 thousand dollars. I just wanted to get a better handle and a comfort level that those numbers that were in the budget were thought through with a certain degree of wiggle room.”

Checking expenditures will be necessary because revenues remain a question mark. Graham said the recent business shut down has made sales tax numbers difficult to estimate. One report from the Tennessee Comptrollers Office recommended cities expect a 12 percent decrease in revenues over last year.

“The sales tax projections and the state-shared taxes forecasts and projections are, at best, a guess,” Graham said.

The good news? Graham said he believes Crossville is in fiscal shape to make up any difference in lost revenue.

“There are 345 cities in the state of Tennessee,” Graham said. “I can assure you that Crossville, as far as their surplus-to-budget is concerned, is one of the best.”

Graham said the council will continue its budget work this week, asking more questions and trying to understand what spending is necessary in these tough times.

“We’re in the talking phase right now,” Graham said. “We just went through the General Fund (Thursday) night. We still have the water and sewer enterprise Funds to go. The finalization will not be until the third meeting, so we still have a lot more information to together. We still have a lot more decisions to make.”


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