City’s proposed budget still leanPublished 5:27pm Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Five years after the start of the economic recession, the City of Bainbridge’s government revenue still hasn’t fully recovered, according to Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby.
During a special called meeting on Tuesday evening that preceded the council’s regular meeting, Hobby presented the city’s proposed budget for its 2013-2014 fiscal year, which begins on October 1.
In a memo to the council, Hobby said he had hoped to report that there had been slow but steady growth in the revenue the city collects from sources such as building permits, sales tax, fines and forfeitures, as well as from franchise fees it collects from companies such as Mediacom and Georgia Power.
However, Hobby said that actual revenue growth during the past 12 months was essentially flat compared to fiscal year 2011-2012.
“This is discouraging on its face but we do see some signs that the local economy is beginning to sputter to life,” Hobby wrote. “In recent months, new businesses have announced plans to build, open and operate in our community. This activity will bring with it jobs and thus, new money will be introduced into the local economy.”
For that reason, Hobby said the proposed budget projects 2.2 percent revenue growth over the next year; however, he noted that the budget would balance only if city employees worked together to keep expenditures low.
Currently, the city has 154 budgeted positions, down 31 positions since 2008. Hobby said city division leaders plan to reduce the budgeted positions to 145 through attrition and an already-imposed hiring freeze in all departments except Public Safety. The proposed budget does not include any employee salary increases.
Hobby said the city’s enterprise utility funds are still healthy despite the mild winter and wet summer. However, all utility rates will be increased by 1.7 percent, which is the rate of inflation established by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The budget projects that it will directly cost the city $1.72 million to offer health care insurance to its employees; Hobby wrote it was “imperative” that city leaders take steps to control those costs, in order to replenish the city’s operating reserves.
The City Council will hold a second public hearing on the proposed budget at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Following the hearing, the council will vote on whether or not to approve the proposed budget, along with any necessary revisions.
To view the full proposed budget online in PDF form, visit www.bainbridgecity.com