Brownsville residents pack City Hall demanding answers about city funding

 

BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. — Community members in Brownsville were able to voice their concerns Tuesday regarding city funding.

The mayor and board of aldermen mentioned nothing in the meeting about the general fund balance or a possible tax hike, but residents came out in full-force demanding answers over claims that millions of dollars in city funds are unaccounted for.

“They have to give us answers,” Ron, a concerned citizen, said. “The mayor has to give us answers because we voted him back in. He needs to give us answers.”

“I’m committed to making sure we’re transparent, making sure everybody knows what’s going on,” Mayor Bill Rawls said. “But we want to make sure we have concrete numbers. We want to make sure we have audited numbers to present to the public.”

Taxpayers were alarmed to find out the city’s general fund balance is around $350,000.

“There’s plenty of things that could’ve happened to the money, but one thing I really think we should look into is the money could have just been misplaced,” concerned citizen Clifton Smith said. “Maybe the calculations were wrong when they added it up together.”

“We know that cash revenues are low during July and August, all municipalities, because we don’t collect money until October,” Mayor Rawls said.

Rawls brought in an auditor to give an update, but it was quickly shut down by the aldermen. “Some of the aldermen didn’t feel comfortable because it wasn’t on the agenda,” Rawls said.

“I think that’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done is for a non-industry party to come in and audit the books,” concerned citizen Gordon Perry said.

Although an audit is being conducted, some think it should not be done by the city.

“I’d like to have an independent audit instead of an internal audit, and that’s what we’re going to get it,” Alderman John Simmons of Ward 3 said.

Many people said they also are concerned about property taxes going up.

“Before we set any type of tax rate, it would have to go before the public,” Rawls said. “There will be a publication in the paper and there will be a public hearing where people can voice their opinions.”

Community members said they want city leaders to stay on top of this issue. Mayor Rawls announced there will be a public hearing where citizens can hear from auditors and address their concerns.

The date has not been set. City leaders ask the public to continue coming to city meetings and workshops.