Despite an economic downturn, Fort Oglethorpe City Council members had to trim less than $200,000 from the 2009 budget that members said includes a 3 percent pay raise and no cuts in core services.
However, one council member at this week’s budget meeting said that he wants to make more cuts and reduce the burden on taxpayers.
“We could cut at least one mill (property tax),” Councilman Harold Silcox said. “It would cost us about $240,000 and it could give the working man a break.”
Council members Monday night held the second reading and the first public meeting in the budget process required by state law. Mr. Silcox said he wants more information before the next hearing on Oct. 27, which will include the third and final reading.
“Employees’ time is divided into departments, 50 percent here and 50 percent there,” he said. “I want to see where they are overall.”
The proposed general fund for the 2009 fiscal year that begins Jan. 1, including revenue from the water and sewer systems, is about $100,000 lower than the $10.1 million in revenues to date in the current year, City Manager Ron Goulart said. That doesn’t include about $4 million in revenue estimated from special purpose local option sales tax.
“We took into consideration the economy. We had to project lower sales tax revenues, and for permit licenses and things such as that, pretty much cut that in half as far as expected revenues,” Mr. Goulart said. “We aren’t expecting much building so that means electrical, plumbing, gas and all those kinds of permits (will be down).”
Mr. Goulart said he was able to balance the budget without cutting jobs, but he expects a slowdown in hiring.
“I don’t anticipate hiring any new personnel at this time,” he said. “If I lose one or two people out of each department, I won’t replace them, at least until I see how things go.”
Council members Johnnie “Red” Smith and Steve Brandon said they were pleased with the budget process thus far.
“The city manager did a good job. He went through it thoroughly. I went through it and looked it, and it’s a good budget,” Mr. Smith said.
Police Chief David Eubanks said his budget was increased for the coming year by about $75,000 to take into account the increase in the cost of fuel. Jeff Long, director of public works, said he made cuts in his department, whittling about $100,000 off the budget by eliminating equipment purchases.