Proposed city budget cuts pool, adds HR position, road paving

Published 9:49 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bainbridge City manager Chris Hobby presented the city’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget at a special-called Bainbridge City Council meeting Tuesday. 

The main areas the more than $19 million budget address are the impact of the Service Delivery Agreement, continuing short-term resurfacing projects, budgeting for and building reserves and improving employee retention, Hobby said.

Hobby said that the city will not see a lot of impact from the SDS yet and that the main department affected will be Leisure Services as the Bainbridge-Decatur County Recreation Authority begins to take over some responsibilities in January 2016.

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“The real impact this year is the $125,000 that the county will be paying us to maintain the county roads inside the city limits,” Hobby said. “That money does not have to go to just those roads. We’ve always been maintaining those roads. That money is just to reimburse us for that, so it frees money up that we could use to expand our paving program.”

The budget states that the city will repave five roads – Gordon, Wheat, Evans, River and Alice – in the first quarter of FY 16.

As part of the Leisure Services budget, the city pool at the Potter Street Community Center was not included for next year.

“This past summer, we averaged 35 users per day,” Hobby said, adding that was a low number. “Some days we actually had to close because nobody came. That’s the reality: it’s just not receiving utilization, and when you couple that with about $100,000 [in repairs] that we need to do to the pumps, motors and surfaces of the pools, you see the real costs.”

The city has talked about closing the pool and building a lower-cost splash pad, which Hobby said likely couldn’t be done by next summer.

“I just hate to see the pool close without another option,” Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer said, adding that the Boat Basin shouldn’t replace the pool. “There aren’t lifeguards. There are alligators. There are snakes. If people want to go there, fine, but I don’t want to say, ‘that’s your only option.’”

Palmer offered up the option of keeping the shallow kiddie pool open, which Hobby and staff agreed to look into.

“The main pool that needs plaster work is the kiddie pool,” said assistant city manager Roy Oliver. “There are filter problems, as well as electrical problems, in the pump house.”

Hobby said that the continuing pump problems cost the department an unexpected $12,000 this summer when it had to replace the pump on the water slide.

Councilman Phil Long suggested looking to partner with the YMCA to provide some pool services while a splash pad was built.

The budget does include a new human resources manager position, which the council requested at its most recent retreat and planning session.

Hobby said that the city is looking to hire former Shaw human resources director Brad Ward, who Hobby said is “very qualified.”

The budget does not include the means to build a lot of reserves, but Hobby said that process will be slow and that black numbers are always better than red. The slow growth this year can partially be attributed to the more than $200,000 in fine and forfeiture write offs after a Georgia Supreme Court ruling.

The full 200-plus-page budget can be viewed at the library or online at the city’s website.