Addleton unveils budget

The Cairo mayor and council got their first look at the proposed 2009-2010 operating budget Thursday and the good news for city residents is there is no proposed tax increase an no utility rate hike other than for CNS Cable and commercial garbage pick-up.
In fact, the city is revamping its rate schedule for water & sewer customers to relieve those customers who use less than 3,000 gallons of water per month.
“This is my best attempt under the circumstances. We’ve got a balanced budget here,” City Manager Chris Addleton said Thursday.
The total budget as recommended by the city manager totals $35,948,761, which is down from the current fiscal year’s budget of $36,657,812.
Driving the proposed budget down is $1.3 million in less projected electric revenue due to the reduced power demand of industrial customers like Timken. Addleton is also reducing gas revenues downward by $214,582. Another big ticket item that was in the current year’s budget but not in next year’s spending plan is the new $654,328 Quint 1 fire engine.
The city manager is budgeting for 176.5 employees in 2009-2010, which is down two positions from the current budget. The approved positions include a new drug investigator for the police department as well as a new employee in the accounting department.
A training captain and part-time secretary in the fire department was requested, but the city manager did not recommend the new position in the proposed budget. An additional building inspector was also requested but not approved. Two new CNS employees, a collections specialist and a receptionist, were also requested but axed.
Addleton has also not included in pay raises for any city employees in the new fiscal year although Mayor Pro Tem Ernest Cloud and Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas voiced support for a small increase during the budget workshop Thursday.
The city manager says the city employees are benefiting from the city shoring up employee benefits. Because of negative returns for the city’s employee retirement fund the council is being asked to budget approximately $150,000 to meet the requirements to properly fund the retirement program.
City officials are also anticipating approximately $200,000 in increased cost for employee health insurance in the upcoming fiscal year. This increase was not included in the budget proposal presented to the council last week. Addleton will bring back a revised budget to the council this week.
Also included in the proposed spending plan is $441,200 of city funds that fund other agencies including Roddenbery Memorial Library ($272,000), Ferst Foundation/Grady County ($5,000), the Joint Development Authority ($37,500), Holder Park Pool ($41,000) and Holder Park summer program ($19,500), Keep Cairo-Grady County Clean & Beautiful ($21,200), the Downtown Facade program ($20,000), the Downtown Development Authority ($25,000), and the Neutral Zone ($4,200).
The largest share of those funds, $272,000, is earmarked for the Roddenbery Memorial Library. Addleton is recommending maintaining the current level of funding, but Councilman Douglas voiced his opposition to funding the library at a rate higher than the combined library funding from the Grady County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education.
The three governing bodies fund the library under an agreement that sets forth the funding to be 50 percent from the city and 25 percent each from the county and 25 percent from the school board. The county commission has not finalized its budget for 2010 and the board of education has cut the library’s funding by $36,000.
Also included in the new budget is $6,122, 512 in capital outlay expenditures. Topping the list is $1,935,500 for a new water well and treatment plant on the city’s west side as well as $1,000,000 for a new elevated tank on the southwest side.
Only one new vehicle will be purchased by the city in the upcoming fiscal year. Addleton is recommending the purchase of one administrative vehicle for the police department at a cost of $24,000.
The city manager is recommending the city spend $40,000 for a new phone system that will work through the new CNS telephone service. The new phone system will be voice over Internet and will no longer be through Windstream.
“If we are going to be in the phone business we should have the city phone service,” Addleton said.
“I read Thomasville is starting to offer commercial phone service. Are we going to piggyback with them and begin offering this service?” Mayor Pro Tem Cloud asked.
The city manager advised moving slowly into commercial service. “We need to be the guinea pigs and once we get the bugs out then start offering commercial service,” Addleton said.
The new CNS telephone service is currently being offered to residential customers only and the city now has 450 telephone subscribers.
Addleton’s budget projections for the new fiscal year calls for 600 CNS telephone subscribers and increased telephone revenue of $147,212.
A number of capital projects for the electric department will be funded with money the city has invested in the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia’s municipal competitive trust account at the recommendation of the council.
By drawing down from this account the city will have money in the operating budget to cover health insurance increases, which are not currently included in the budget.
A public hearing on the proposed budget has been scheduled for Monday, June 8 at 6 p.m. Final adoption will take place on Monday, June 15 at 5:30 p.m. A copy of the proposed spending plan is available for public inspection at Cairo City Hall.

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