The City of Calhoun has begun discussing the city’s budget for the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year.
During negotiations, the governing body and Calhoun Utilities has put together a tentative budget that bests serves its needs and the community.
“It’s a simple, bare bones budget,” said City Administrator Eddie Peterson during one budget work session. “We’ve managed to use what we have to make things work.”
The city continues to use what it has, value taxpayers’ money and continue to make Calhoun a desired place to live and visit.
According to City of Calhoun Director of Finance Andrea Bramlett, the most significant difference in this budget as oppose to last year’s is the way the city can expend funds for replacing aging equipment in streets, utilities and recreation.
“We are expanding some facilities,” said Bramlett. “SPLOST proceeds provided the funding for these items.”
Unlike other municipalities in the area, the City of Calhoun has been able to continue serving the community, even though budget size has been reduced in recent years due to a stagnant economy.
“We have been able to continue all services that the citizens were currently receiving and provide a new walking trail, a new recreation building, assist in providing a new library, purchase a new, more cost efficient fleet of police cars, among other things,” said Bramlett. “All these things were provided with only minimal increases to revenues.”
A few of the major projects regarding the general fund for the City of Calhoun includes the Calhoun-Gordon County Library expansion project, purchase of a new Calhoun Police Department fleet, purchase of a fire command vehicle, a brush truck for solid waste, purchases of a mower and gator for the Calhoun Recreation Department, and an increase cost of health benefits.
The cost of health care is one of the largest parts of the budget that had to be factored in.
“Even though we have had to make changes to our health insurance coverage, we are still experiencing an increase in health insurance costs of about 25 percent,” explained Bramlett. “This has a large impact on the city since salaries and related benefits are one of our largest costs.”
According to City Clerk Paul Worley, who filled in for Peterson, during the first public hearing of the budget, said that the 2012 estimated Tax Digest numbers are slightly higher than last year, and that LOST tax collections have also been trending upwards.
“On the expenditure side, there will be some increases in personnel costs mainly due to a high increase in group health insurance costs,” explained Worley. “There are also a few needed capital items included in this budget. The City has delayed all capital purchases for the past three years.”
On the utilities part of the budget, Director of Utilities Larry Vickery, said that this year’s budget included a slight increase in water and sewer rates to help the city break even with these operations. However, the electric rates will not be changed.
All entities of the budget and funds are still being negotiated, and will be presented for a second public hearing Monday, June 11, during the first city council meeting of the month.