The Calhoun City Council and Mayor Jimmy Palmer have approved the budget for the general fund and Calhoun Utilities that was presented before the community on Monday night’s regularly scheduled city council meeting.
The governing body and Calhoun Utilities has worked vigorously the last few months in preparation for this year’s budget season, and in doing so, has organized a budget that suits the city’s needs and serves the community.
Under budgeted revenues, City Administrator Eddie Peterson broke down the general fund line by line. He said that property taxes included the current year, back years and vehicles, which makes up 12 percent of the city’s revenue stream.
Under franchise tax, which, according to Peterson, includes the city and private utilities paying to use the city rights-of-way.
“This is collected from all utilities including gas, electric, telephone, and cable at 3 percent rate of gross revenues,” explained Peterson. “These monies come in monthly, quarterly and yearly.”
Then there is the sales tax which is based on an agreement with the Gordon County Board of Commissioners and currently Calhoun receives 26 percent, Fairmount gets 3.25 percent while Resaca is at 1.75 percent and Gordon County retains the remaining 69 percent, according to Peterson.
“A renewal Certificate of Distribution agreement is scheduled for this year and hopefully Calhoun’s Local Option Sales Tax will be based on our population, which is at 28.3 percent,” said Peterson.
The excise tax, which includes beer, wine, liquor, business, insurance premiums, and financial institution taxes brings in 14 percent of the revenue.
Local revenues bring in 23 percent with the majority made up of a Lease of Assets from Water, Sewer and Electric, according to Peterson.
“This year this amount will be $3,055,000,” explained Peterson. “If the City was not in the utility business the city millage rate would be six or 7 mils instead of 2; business license and other revenues would also be much higher.”
Peterson went on to explain the other items that make up the general fund.
“We have 130 line items in the General Revenue Fund; many of these are smaller amounts but the advantage of not having all your eggs in one basket is that there is room and opportunities to adjust the revenue stream,” explained Peterson. “In 2007, 2008 budget, interest on savings, building permits, and municipal court returned $1,250,000 to the General Fund. This year those same three line items will bring in $500,000; that’s a $750,000 reduction.”
He went on to say that back in 2007, business license were $520,000 while this year it’s projected to be $480,000.
“This point is that we had enough revenue diversity to weather the most damaging recession in our history,” said Peterson.
The local option sales tax (LOST) makes up 17 percent of the city’s total budget, which receives 26 percent of the total sales tax produced by Gordon County.
“LOST is the second largest revenue stream for our budget and is an indication of consumer spending and directly related to jobs in and around Calhoun,” said Peterson. “This is a positive trend.”
On the expenditure side, $13,911,345 was allotted, which consisted of $1,150,868 for general administration; $464,206 for court services; $834,222 for community services; $541,376 for community development; $4,290,876 for police; $2,421,196 for public works and $946,460.
Peterson also mentioned the unemployment rate in Gordon County, which is still not where the county wants to be, but according to Peterson is moving in the right direction.
“It’s hard to believe 2000-2007 and what happened by 2010 to Calhoun and Gordon County employment base,” said Peterson, “but there is movement in the right direction.”
Peterson concluded with the parody, “The 2011 SPLOST for public works, recreation, police and fire communications, and utilities was like building a levy to stop the flood of infrastructure and equipment loss in Calhoun. Without the 2011 SPLOST we wouldn’t have washed away, but there would have been considerable flood damage.”
According to Director of Calhoun Utilities Larry Vickery, the budget for Calhoun Utilities is approved as well, and he thanked everyone for their hard work, during this proceess.
Council member George Crowley also added, “I feel the two most important tasks for the Mayor and Council is to pick the right employees to help run the city government and to pass the budget every year. The last few years have been some of the most difficult for the school system and city government for passing balanced budgets. State funds for education continue to decline and large budget cuts have been necessary. Also, within city government revenues have decreased during the recession and budget cuts in addition to delayed capital expenditures have been necessary. In spite of these challenges the City of Calhoun has been able to maintain the same level of services.”