Brownsville officials face furious public as they tackle city’s money issues

BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. — The city of Brownsville has to call in extra help after millions of dollars disappeared into thin air, and residents and city leaders came face to face to iron it out Friday morning,

Mayor William Rawls says the city's general fund went from $4 million to only $500,000. That may require a 44 percent tax increase, he said.

Several met at City Hall Friday morning, furious about the city's money issue.

"I don't understand how any of you are qualified. You shouldn't of even been on the ballots. I'm ashamed to say that," one resident said.

The mayor said after an initial review he found a lot of money went to things like the city's animal shelter, beautifying the city, purchasing city equipment and tourism.

But to manage what's left, there will have to be changes to the 157 city employees.

"So far, we have seen where we have too many employees that were not included in the budget, so we will have to lay some people off to balance the budget," Rawls said.

In the meeting, the city's auditor threw out some numbers from his findings. He said the balance in the general fund account was an issue.

By June of this year he said the balance was $1.3 million. The year before, $2.4 million and the year before that, over $4 million.

He believes the consistent decline stems from the city's numerous grants that they can't afford.

After also reading through several meeting minutes, the auditor say he found it odd that the council didn't have financial report discussions.

"Board of Aldermen, I would ask you all, will you guys commit to not move anything as far as city business until you get such a report?"

The board took full responsibility for the city's money problems and promised to do the best they can to come back from this.

But that won't stop residents from asking questions.

While the internal and external audits are being conducted, the Brownsville city clerk has been placed on administrative leave.

The city is asking for residents to be patient as the mayor and board of alderman work on a plan to resolve this issue and move forward.

They say residents will be informed on any tax increase when that is decided.