BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
Less than $2,000 remains of Thompson’s Station’s $40,000 professional service budget for the fiscal year, which began just two months ago in July.
The professional service budget is a portion of the budget allotted to outsourced engineering services, and is only for development costs that the city – not developers – must incur.
The $40,000 budget was decided when on August 14, the Thompson’s Station Board of Mayor and Alderman approved a contract with Barge Solutions to provide on-call engineering services for the town. This contract was agreed upon by town officials to not exceed the $40,000 budget set for the entire fiscal year, ending in July 2019. The town has since spent $37,244 of that amount.
“We’ve spent our entire professional service budget in two months,” said Alderman Ben Dilks during Tuesday’s meeting of the board. “The issue is that [the budget] was supposed to control our spending throughout the entire fiscal year, and here we are two months into the year, and we’ve blown the entire kennel. That was my main concern, that we have no idea with what we’re going to spend with this thing, and clearly we still don’t have any idea. That’s ridiculous.”
Mayor Corey Napier responded by saying if it came to needing to modify the budget, then he wouldn’t rule out having that discussion.
“We’ll live within our budget, and if we need to come back to the board for a modified budget, we’ll have that discussion,” Napier said. “In the meantime, we’ll live within our budget. It’s that simple.”
Dilks said the use of Barge Solutions services, so far, has been mostly for traffic related projects, such as traffic impact study guidelines, signal light priming and signage.
“They’re not respectful of the taxpayer’s dollar,” Dilks said of some of the town officials. “I don’t know that any of these projects necessarily lacked merit, but we have controls in place for a reason; to make sure we’re not just spending money and abusing the privilege of spending taxpayer dollars on things like this.”
If a resolution came to the board requesting to amend the professional service budget, Dilks said he would not vote to approve said resolution.
Some projects already completed by Barge Solutions include assistance in developing new traffic impact study guidelines, helping arrange the repair project to the town’s wastewater treatment plant, and recommending traffic signal improvements for portions of U.S. 31.
“We do budget amendments from time to time… it’s not an unusual thing,” Dilks said. “It’s just been real concerning that we spent that much of the budget that quickly.”
The next meeting of the Thompson’s Station Board of Mayor and Alderman will be on October 9 at the Thompson’s Center Community Center. The center is located at 1555 Thompson’s Station Road, Thompson’s Station, TN 37179.