City on slight financial upswing

Published 8:59 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2015

At the Bainbridge City Council meeting Tuesday evening, Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby shared what he called “good news” for the city’s financial state going into fiscal year 2016.

At the end of June 2014, the city’s general fund was at a deficit of more than $400,000. At the end of June 2015, the general fund was at a surplus of almost $250,000.

“That’s pretty incredible in a year’s time, and it’s contributable to the hard work of the division directors and city’s employees,” Hobby said. “All of our funds are performing better this year than opposed to last year.”

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The city is winding down fiscal year 2015 and preparing the budget draft for 2016, which Hobby hopes will continue the good news with current projections of ending the year with a $250,000 surplus.

“A portion of that we are going to be proposing to go to employee raises. We haven’t done raises in three years, and I think it’s time that we do,” Hobby said.
Hobby said along with the two percent salary raises for city employees, that he also would not propose any increases on utilities aside from the normal Consumer Price Index increase, which will be 1.8 percent.

“The only fund that we have currently running a deficit is our water and sewer fund, which is currently running a deficit of $42,639,” Hobby said. “It’s always that way as we go into the summer months. We’re not overly concerned about that. We’re actually encouraged, because this time last year, the operating deficit was $84,234, so we have cut that number in half.”

Hobby said that he is still unsure how the new Transportation Funding Act of 2015 will impact the city financially, if at all, but that it will be monitored closely.

Sales taxes increasing slightly combined with more income from property taxes after last year’s millage increase are helping the city financially, Hobby said. The unemployment rate is also the lowest it’s been in years at 7.5 percent.

“Certainly, we’re not anywhere near where we used to be revenue-wise so we can do some of the things we’d like to see done,” said Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds. “We’re slowly optimistic. Obviously trying to focus on economic development and jobs is critical to that piece, so we’re excited about the Hampton Inn opening and some jobs coming there as well as some other opportunities coming.”

The fiscal year 2016 budget draft will be available for public viewing Aug. 25 online and at City Hall. The city council will hold a special-called meeting Sept. 1 when Hobby will present the budget, and the council will have a public hearing. On Sept. 15, the council will have a second public hearing and consider adopting the budget at its regular September meeting.