Council proposes delay to department requests for extra funding - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Council proposes delay to department requests for extra funding

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Council proposed to set aside all department requests for extra funding, and revisit the requests in a few months. Council must adopt a final Fiscal Year 2015 by the first day of FY15 on July 1st.

Several departments heads including the Sheriff, Marshal and District Attorney have gone to council and asked for more money than what the Mayor recommended in her proposed budget. Council will take another look at the requests after this year’s tax digest, expected to be released in August. Council says they will have a better idea of how much the city has to spend after seeing how much the city will receive in property taxes next year. In the meantime, Mayor Tomlinson says the departments should have enough to perform their duties.

“Most of them have adequate budgets to get them through the first quarter,” said Tomlinson. “I don't think there's going to be a limitation of services or any restrictions on those departments.”

Council proposed to deny the requests in order to not dip too far into the reserve fund. The Mayor says the cut-off for the reserve balance is 60 days.

Some city service rates will also increase to help balance the budget. The Parks and Rec fee will go up, but Council hopes that it won’t be as much as initially anticipated. The Parks and Rec Department proposed a youth recreational teams fee at $100 per team per year. The fee was supposed to help the city bring in an additional $56,000 in revenue, but Council proposed that the fee be removed because it may discourage kids from participating in sports. Garbage fees are projected to increase, residents should expect to pay an extra 86-cents a month for garbage pickup.

“We tried to keep all revenue increases in the form of user fees so that your paying for what you're actually getting,” said Tomlinson

City officials also debunked myths about a property tax raise, saying some people thought the rise in property tax revenue would result in an increase for homeowners. Columbus Finance Director Pam Hodge says that’s not the case.

“Because the millage rate remains the same, that will not impact individual home owners as long as their assessment has not changes,” said Hodge.

Tuesday's millage rate hearing received no opposition, the city is required to have two more this month. Council will have one more hearing on the budget before it's adopted.

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David Hurst, a graduate of the Univ. of Georgia, focuses on how your tax dollars are being spent.
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