Town of Farragut moves into 2017 with a clean slate regarding debts, but it faces new challenges.
Road improvements, stormwater infrastructure, information technology systems, park expansions and Campbell Station Inn restoration were among the list of concerns, leaving Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen with a challenge of how it will pay for the projects.
The Board discussed those challenges during its annual retreat in Turkey Creek Medical Center Saturday, Feb. 11.
David Smoak, Farragut Town administrator, said the Town currently has zero debt, since it paid off its mixed drink allocation to Knox County Schools and its debt on Campbell Station Inn, formerly Avery Russell House, both in the fall.
“Now we’ve got money for roads,” Alderman Bob Markli said.
However, the Town also faces losing money from the state Hall Tax, with which the state is doing away, Alderman Ron Williams said.
Of the $10,056,362 in revenues in the 2016 budget, the Hall Tax accounted for $375,000 of the budgeted revenue, according to its 2016 budget document.
One suggestion for a new revenue stream to help pay for road improvements, an impact fee, has been debated for about a year.
Markli said he is against impact fees. Instead, he said the Town should take on the burden.
“If we got resources to do it, we do it,” he said. “Everybody wins. “I think that trying to put [the road improvement costs] on developers is the wrong approach to it.
“We’ve got plenty of parks in the county,” Markli said. “I think we could forego a few years of [park expansion].
“I don’t think there’s anything we could do to make the Town more appealing, safer for our constituents and be a better use for our resources than to get these last few roads fixed in an order that will be conducive to the development and the desires of the landowners. Everybody wins.”
Alderman Ron Pinchok said he had talked to some land developers, who said they would pay, they just want to know what the fee is so they could project their
costs. “I haven’t had anyone tell me, ‘No, I don’t want to pay,’”
He said he wants to see the parks expanded.
“For the last four or five years, we have been waiting to have that property developed,” he said. “I think we waited long enough.”
Pinchok said he thinks the Town should come up with a Hotel-Motel Tax.
“[The tax] also is a good measure of your tourism and how effective it is,” Alderman Louise Povlin said.
Alderman Ron Williams said the Town will soon have a refurbished Campbell Station Inn to go with its parks and Farragut Museum, adding there are nine hotels with 725 rooms. “We have to look at a revenue stream that will support the parks to where our normal revenue streams will support our roads,” Williams said.
Markli said he previously did not support a Hotel-Motel Tax, but he now sees a need for one.