MURRAY — The Personnel and Finance Committee of the Murray City Council approved the Fiscal Year 2022 budget Thursday evening.

This allowed the budget to receive a first reading in front of the full council. The second and final reading of the budget is expected during the council’s meeting on June 10. That is when the council will vote on whether to approve it.

City Director of Finance Kim Wyatt said the total available funds for the FY22 budget amounts to $20,372,781 with $15,303,542 budgeted for expenditures.

“Now, we are taking $1.9 million out of our reserves, that is, if we do meet all of our expenditures that we have budgeted,” Wyatt said. “But, in last year’s budget and the year before, we were fortunate enough to control costs and not spend all of the amounts we had budgeted for expenditures.

“So, hopefully, this year, we will not see a total $1.9 million deficit.”

Mayor Bob Rogers discussed what he called highlights of the ’22 budget, and there were some items that have received much attention in the past few years that found their way onto the draft version.

“We’ve got money, for the first time, and it’s significant money, for a wayfinding sign grant,” Rogers said of the project, valued at about $300,000, that will result in new, more noticeable signage that will lead visitors to landmarks in the city. “We’ve been talking about this ever since I’ve been mayor and I think it’s been going on since before that. It’s been approved, then not approved, then approved and not approved, but now, we’ve finally got it moving and I know a lot of people are excited about that.

“We also have some money for the business loop we’re wanting to get in here (establishing a bypass around the east side of the city). We’ve done almost all of the easements and we’re hoping to get started on relocating all of the utilities so that this time next year, we’ll be able to talk about starting construction on it.”

Rogers said the new budget also establishes a new Alcohol Beverage Control budget that is separate from other budgets. He said that this will allow for residents to know where exactly the money for the city’s ABC tax goes. Along with that, an ordinance to lower the ABC tax from 5% of sales for businesses that sell alcoholic beverages in the city to 4% received its first reading Thursday. The second reading and subsequent vote is expected on June 10.

Rogers also said $2 million was being reserved in the budget for future expenses. Some of these are mandatory, such as the city’s $500,000 payment to be part of pursuing and securing a federal grant for the long-awaited expansion of U.S. 641 South from the city limits to the Tennessee state line at Hazel. This also includes payments related to the construction of a Murray Fire Department station on South 16th Street.

However, there are also future endeavors that Rogers said the city will probably be facing in the coming years, namely purchasing new vehicles for MFD and the Murray Police Department.

In addition, the budget is going to continue to try addressing paving within the city, something that, until a few years ago, was a major struggle. Rogers said Thursday that $825,000 has been allotted for paving and sidewalk work alone.

This was increased a bit during the Personnel & Finance Committee meeting. There, Councilman Johnny Bohannon, a member of the committee, asked that $100,000 more be budgeted for street work, but Rogers had another idea in mind.

“Rather than put that $100,000 in next year’s budget, we have identified that there’s enough money left over in the current (state) municipal aid budget that we could amend this year’s budget and put that into paving,” Rogers said, adding that, with the street department almost out of its available funds for the current fiscal year, it means putting the city in position to not be able to pave any streets in June.

“I’d hate to go the whole month of June without doing some paving.”