Failure to pass budget forces Louisville government to shut down

Failure to pass budget forces Louisville government to shut down

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By MONA NAIR
6 News Reporter

LOUISVILLE (WATE) - People in the small Blount County town of Louisville are preparing for a government shutdown at midnight Thursday. It's because the Board of Mayor and Aldermen failed to pass a budget for the next fiscal year.

City services will discontinue and workers will be furloughed. A sign on the door of the town hall lets people know.

"It's frustrating," said Mayor Tom Bickers. "We're in this situation because we have an alderman who never comes to our meetings and another one who did not come to a meeting and did not let us know to reschedule."

Mayor Bickers says the bottom line is that internal drama led to elected officials not being able to okay an annual budget in time.

That brings anything that requires spending money to a screeching halt. "The biggest concern here is if we have an emergency," the mayor said.

The two major services that will not be affected are law enforcement and fire response. The Blount County Sheriff's Office oversees the area. The county also staffs the fire department.

However, city workers such as maintenance staff will not get paid.

Phyllis Coffey manages the city-run Poland Creek Camp Ground. "This is the only job I have. I'm really sad. I'm really angry because I'm not getting paid," she said.

The place is usually packed over the 4th of July weekend. But this year, because of the unexpected shutdown, they'll have to turn away people coming in with reservations.

"It's not fair on me and it's not fair on campers because they save up for a month to camp over this holiday," Coffey said.

The mayor says some city staff volunteered to work for free in case of a major event.

Coffey says the whole debacle is a lesson on what happens when you vote in the wrong people. "People are going to understand you don't elect someone who does not care," she said.

Mayor Bickers hopes he can hold things together until their next budget meeting where they intend to resolve the issue. "I'm going to minimize the impact as best as I can," he said.

There has been another meeting called on July 5. The mayor hopes he can okay a budget then and get things back to normal.

6 News tried to call  the alderman we were told did not attend the most recent meeting, but he did not answer the phone.

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