Council OKs new budget

COVINGTON - The Covington City Council approved a $70.9 million six-month budget Monday night.

The budget reflects revenues and operating expenses for January through June. Typically, the city adopts a 12-month budget that runs on a calendar year. However, the city is planning to convert to a budget cycle that runs from July to June, the same as Newton County, the Board of Education and the Water and Sewerage Authority, according to City Clerk John Grotheer, so it was necessary to adopt a six-month budget to stay on track prior to that conversion.

"The reason for that is we are aligning our budgets for planning purposes," Grotheer said.

The council will adopt another budget in June, to go into effect in July.

The current budget does not include ad valorem revenues and "department heads have been asked to hold capital expenditures during this budget," Grotheer said.

"There have been no rate changes budgeted as far as electric, water and sewer and sanitation, and we don't anticipate any changes on the following budget either," he said.

Grotheer said the city anticipates a sales tax increase of $500,000 due to the new Wal-Mart Supercenter and Home Depot at Industrial Boulevard and Ga. Highway 142.

But a decrease of 10 percent is projected for water revenues due to Gov. Sonny Perdue's water conservation plan.

The budget projects $70.9 million in revenues and $70.4 million in expenditures, leaving a net surplus of approximately $548,813.

Included in the budget is the $3.135 million payoff to the Industrial Development Authority for land it purchased at Covington Municipal Airport, along with $4.5 million of debt payment, Grotheer said.

That debt payoff, mostly for loans obtained through the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, will save the city about $800,000 in interest, he said.

Work on the next budget will begin immediately, with council work sessions starting in April or May, he said.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.