Johnson City Commissioners are moving closer to a finalized budget for next year. They debated late into the night on Thursday and continued talks on Friday morning.
The commission was split with a 3-2 vote on the second reading Friday morning.
They decided not to increase property taxes by $.22, as proposed by Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin.
Commissioners will defer capital projects, cut employee raises and eliminate funding for non-profits to balance out spending in the $204 million budget, according to City Manager Bob Wilson.
The city schools will also only get $500,000 of the $3.4 million increase they asked for.
Wilson told us the budget includes more than $60,000 to keep the Legion Street pool open for the next year and a half. Commissioners have also been set aside funding for the farmers market site and to hire six law enforcement officers.
Wilson said even though the city expects to pass a balanced budget this year, they'll have to raise property taxes to make ends meet next year.
"The purchases you put off this year don't go away," he said. "They're still there and our capital needs keep changing. I mean, we have other buildings, roofs to replace, HVAC to replace, parking lots to repair, projects like that."
The final reading of the budget is next Friday.
Commissioners did find a way to save money in future budgets during their meeting Thursday night. They voted in a first reading to move the municipal election date to coincide with the federal Election Day.
It's expected to save the city $75,000 every other year.
The ordinance still needs to pass two more readings, then in November there will be a referendum for the public to vote on the idea.
Assistant City Manager Bob Wilson told us the change should increase voter turnout.