Jellico officials still searching for solution to budget crisis

Jellico officials still searching for solution to budget crisis

Posted:
Many of the ideas for raising revenue were shot down by citizens who attended the meeting. Many of the ideas for raising revenue were shot down by citizens who attended the meeting.
Jellico Mayor Les Stiers says he is against raising taxes. Jellico Mayor Les Stiers says he is against raising taxes.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

JELLICO (WATE) - Jellico officials were unable to pay city employees on time this week. Though the employees were finally paid on Thursday, officials are still looking for ways to bring in new revenue.

Jellico employees did not get their paychecks on Monday as scheduled. City officials said there was not enough money to pay them.

"We are here to discuss the business of Jellico and that's what we are going to do," said Jellico Mayor Les Stiers at the beginning of Thursday night's City Council meeting.

First on the list was how the city was going to get more revenue so city workers would not miss a paycheck again.

Some of the ideas discussed included raising property and wheel taxes. Selling city property or starting annexation was also considered.
     
Many of the ideas were shot down by citizens who attended the meeting.

"We do not want to be annexed," said one person who addressed the council. "We don't want your benefits, as you call them."

Others were concerned with how the City Council was operating.

"We are not seeing a board as a group," said another Jellico resident. "We are seeing a board divided. Nobody is working to get things done."

The mayor has already said he is against raising taxes, but council members are not helping to think of other ways to fix the city's financial problems.

"What I am doing is challenging this council to come up with ways to make money," said Stiers. "You got to stop operating pay day to pay day."

The only decision made in Thursday's meeting was to start the process of selling 70 acres of city-owned land, but a sale won't happen anytime soon.

Residents say they hope something is done fast.

"Never seen it in the history, far as I know," said Jellico resident Willard Smiddy. "We have never been at the edge of bankruptcy."

Officials say the city can not go into bankruptcy. State officials could take over the city's finances before that happened.

The mayor says sales and beer taxes will be paid in the next few days to keep the city afloat for the time being.

Council members will meet again next Friday to continue their discussions on ways to add revenue.

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