City manager: Maryville in good financial shape
By Iva Butler | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The city of Maryville is in good shape financially and has added millions of dollars to the economy through city projects during the last four years of the economic downturn.
This was the message Maryville City Manager Greg McClain delivered at a Blount Chamber of Commerce session Friday morning.
Over the past six years that McClain has been city manager, the city debt has gone from a 91 percent variable rate to a 90 percent fixed rate.
The general fund balance is $5 million, the highest it has been in 30 years, McClain said.
The city is developing a comprehensive plan that outlines what the city wants to be in the future — “a community that grows and doesn’t leave the feeling behind of what we are or what we were — still Maryville in the foothills nestled in the South. We want it to remain a place people want to live and raise their children,” he said.
The city wanted to keep the money flowing after the economy went south in 2008 and had capital projects that totaled about $100.5 million.
That year the city had just started grading on Coulter Grove Intermediate School but had to put the brakes on the project.
Then the federal stimulus program came along for shovel-ready projects and the city was able to get $18 million in low-interest money from the federal government to complete the $26 million project.
This allowed schools to move some grades around to relieve overcrowding at other schools.
Maryville was able to build the school “in the worst time in our economy,” he said.
Schools also upgraded heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems in schools for $8 million that was paid for by cash on hand, he said.
These projects put people to work in the community, McClain stressed.
New wastewater plant
The city also built a new $38 million wastewater treatment plant, “a massive construction project that took years to complete,” he said.
Maryville operates the regional sewer plant that serves Maryville, Alcoa, Blount County and Knox Chapman Utility District.
“The old plant couldn’t handle the amount of effluent that was coming into the plant. That is the most scrutinized operation we have. It’s very expensive because it is so heavily regulated,” McClain said.
Half of the plant, which has a capacity to treat over 13 million gallons a day, is concrete and steel.
In addition, the water/sewer department spends $2 million a year on capital projects, updating and adding lines.
The electric department adds $3 million a year in updates of lines and equipment.
This year the city, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is dredging the Greenbelt Lake, a $3,047,260 project the city started working toward in 2000.
The lake had started to smell and was only about 1 foot deep due to sediment, he said.
A federal grant allowed the city to put in an environmental learning system at the wetlands located on Montvale Station Road near Sandy Springs Road — a $1 million project.
School groups and other children use the facility and the city has an agreement with Maryville College to teach the children about the environment.
Over the past two years public works spent $2.5 million on major road projects, such as improving intersections and adding turn lanes. “A lot of money is spent trying to make your life better getting to and from Maryville,” McClain said.
He warned the citizens that later this year a Tennessee Department of Transportation project adding a turn lane on Sevierville Road from Walnut Street to Everett High Road will result in the closure of the lane going out of town, with traffic being detoured along East Lamar Alexander Parkway, Cherokee Street and Crest Road/Wilcox Street.
The TDOT contractor will be Highways Inc. of Brentwood with the low bid of $1,664,351.