Porterdale nixes December meetings

PORTERDALE - The 2009 budget won't be finalized until sometime in January after City Council members decided to cancel two scheduled meetings this month.

Called meetings on Dec. 16 and 30 were canceled after council members found they had scheduling conflicts, City Manager Tom Fox said. The council's next regular meeting is slated for Jan. 5.

Fox said Monday he will have a budget proposal ready to present to the council in January. The council will then review the budget and follow through on the adoption process, he said.

The 2009 budget will total about $2.1 million, Fox said, which is approximately $150,000 less than the 2008 budget. The general fund, which includes public safety, will make up $1.4 million of the total; the water department accounts for about $553,000; and the sanitation department $132,000, Fox said. Under Georgia law, all municipalities must operate under a balanced budget. All funds within the budget must also balance.

Fox said the general fund budget will require revenue from the water fund in order to be balanced.

"The budget will depend a lot on the sale of the sewer capacity to the (Newton County) Water and Sewerage Authority," Fox said. "In order to make the general fund budget balance, it will require a transfer from the water fund. I don't think there is any way around it unless (the council) wants to make more cuts."

The city is in the process of selling a portion of its reserve sewage treatment capacity to the water and sewerage authority, a transaction that could net the city about $152,000.

At a work session on Dec. 9, Fox told council members that the 2009 budget contains no salary increases for employees and little new spending. The council did instruct Fox to reinstate a full-time position in the public works department. Fox said the department was downsized by two positions - one due to a layoff and the other due to resignation - which makes staffing difficult when other employees are on vacation or out sick.

Fox told the council that no temporary help has been budgeted for the administrative department. He also said the city's impact fee study, which was being done in conjunction with the comprehensive land use plan, has been put on hold. The impact fee study was expected to cost $27,000, while the comprehensive land use plan was bid at $8,500.

Without an updated comprehensive land use plan approved by the state Department of Community Affairs, Porterdale is not eligible for funding from DCA, the Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority or the OneGeorgia Authority.

Alice Queen can be reached at alice.queen@newtoncitizen.com.