Hobby: city’s budget still tight

Published 9:27 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The City of Bainbridge’s proposed budget for its 2011-2012 fiscal year is mostly a continuation of the way the city has been operating, with only minor changes to spending and revenue, City Manager Chris Hobby said.

The city will not raise its millage rate, as it did last year. Instead, the city’s recently re-organized divisions are being asked to keep a tight rein on spending associated with the city’s general fund, in light of minute revenue increases.

The total budget is $27.4 million. About $11 million of the total consists of equity from two rounds of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The city expects to spend about $9.8 million in SPLOST funds through Oct. 1, 2012. Most of the SPLOST spending is associated with work on the next phase of the city’s sewer master plan and a proposed renovation of City Hall, which is awaiting final approval by the City Council.

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The city has budgeted spending for a Fourth of July concert and fireworks, at the same level as this past year. Movie screenings in the Earle May Boat Basin will also be held this fall.

City water and sewer customers should expect slightly higher bills, as there will be rate increases tied to the 3.6 percent inflation rate the United States has experienced within the last year, Hobby said.

There are no across-the-board raises for city employees in the proposed budget — the Council approved mid-year cost-of-living raises this past March.

The city hopes to hire a few new Public Safety officers in the next year, in part with the help of federal grant funding that has been applied for. Within the next two months, Hobby will announce the hiring of a new Public Safety director to replace Larry Funderburke, who is retiring in December.

The city is taking back over operation of the marina, but aims to keep a balanced budget of about $96,000 to run it, Hobby said.

The city manager said he wants to work toward increasing revenue from the city’s sports facilities and swimming pool in the next year.

The only major purchases to be made will be new garbage trucks, however, that will be funded out of the Solid Waste enterprise fund, which takes in money from utility bills.

An initial public hearing on the proposed budget will be held during the City Council’s meeting on Sept. 6. The council will consider adopting the budget on Sept. 20.

Printed copies of the budget are available for viewing at City Hall and the Decatur County Library; it is also available in electronic form on the city’s website, www.bainbridgecity.com