PORTERDALE - City Manager Tom Fox presented a proposed $1.1 million budget to City Council members at a work session last week, along with a cautionary note that the city should "prepare for the worst and hope for the best."
The proposed budget is more conservative than in years past, Fox told the council, and does not include a cost-of-living increase for employees. The council expects to have the first and second readings of the budget ordinance at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting at
6:30 p.m. March 2 at City Hall.
Fox issued several budget-related recommendations to the council, including the formation of a budget/finance committee, a review of the city's labor resource allocations, approval of a street light fee to offset the operating cost of city lights, and approval of the sale of vacant lots in the city to generate revenue.
Fox also suggested the city delay any capital expenditures, which would primarily relate to restoration of Porter Memorial Gymnasium, and passing the 2 cents-per-thousand-gallon wholesale water rate increase from Newton County on to water customers.
Fox cautioned that refraining from increasing fees or taxes could make it necessary for the city to cut services.
"If the consensus is not to raise taxes and not to raise fees, then the city will have to cut services," Fox
said. "There's no other way to do it."
Under the proposed budget, the city expects to collect $900,600 in general fund revenues, while total expenditures are budgeted at $1.1 million. The city expects to sell its reserve sewage treatment capacity to the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority, netting approximately $208,000, which will be transferred to the general fund in order to balance the budget.
Fox reminded the council members that the sale of the reserve capacity is a one-time opportunity that will not be available to help make ends meet in 2010.
"So as you can see, if we were doing this budget for the following year, we would be $200,000 short," Fox said.
The proposed budget includes little new spending. One exception is $42,800 budgeted to pay Porterdale's portion of the cost of operating the Newton County 911 Center. Porterdale's share is based on its dispatch call volume. Porterdale officials hope to reduce this cost through discussions with the 911 Center board of directors. New spending budgeted for the Police Department includes $3,600 for air cards for police officer laptops and $5,950 for the purchase of a used police vehicle.
Alice Queen can be reached at email@example.com.