Bainbridge approves FY16 budget, looks for pool money

Published 8:57 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tuesday evening the Bainbridge City Council approved its Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget.

The council approved the budget as is with a catch: that city staff look at every department to see where money – no more than $50,00 – can be shifted to keep part of the city pool open.

Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer made the motion that was seconded by Councilman Don Whaley. The budget passed 4-0 with councilmen Phil Long and Luther Conyers absent.

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According to city manager Chris Hobby’s figures, keeping the kiddie pool portion open will need about $48,000 for repairs and operation next summer.

“I think we can keep the pool open using a bit of creativity and reallocate some money from other areas with the budget that we have and not spend another dime and even keep that HR position in place,” Palmer said. “I don’t like closing any of it, but at least keep the children’s part open until we can afford to build our splash pad. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Palmer listed a few lines from the budget that she said stood out as money that could be shifted a little to help cover the pool costs.

Whaley said that he had received mixed feedback on closing the pool, some in favor of keeping it open and other that saw the pool as money to be spent elsewhere.

Before the decision, the council opened the floor for public input and multiple citizens addressed the council on the matter of the budget.

“I think the HR position is redundant. I think that the matters were handled adequately by the HR secretary and the city manager,” said Paul Fryer. “I feel like the pool is more of a priority, even though it’s expensive, than hiring an HR manager, which would also be expensive.”

The budget also creates a new city staff position. The new human resources director position is the result of ongoing talks amongst council on how to combat growing costs.

“We do believe it is in the best interest and it will pay for itself, because the role is beyond the scope of worker’s comp claims management,” Councilwoman Glennie Bench said. “It’s about preventing worker’s comp claims. It’s about making sure the policies and procedures all of our employees work under are current, up-to-date and that they serve to protect the employees as well as the city.”

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 at the council’s special-called meeting Sept. 1 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.

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