City Council passes reduced budget

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- With no discussion or comment, the Social Circle City Council approved on Thursday its 2010-11 budget.

The vote was taken just moments after one Social Circle resident, Lurie Maddox, had accused the mayor and police department of corruption in front of a standing room-only crowd of people supporting Maddox.

Council members David Keener and Anne Peppers voted in favor of approving the budget; Councilwoman Angela Porter did not verbalize a vote; and Councilwoman Traysa Price was not present.

The 2010-11 budget is 18 percent lower than the previous year's, a sign of the struggling economy and declining property values, City Manager Doug White said when the first reading of the budget was held in June. This year's budget is $2.44 million, down from the $2.6 million 2009-10 budget.

The budget does not anticipate a millage rate increase, although water and sewer customers will likely see another rate increase.

Social Circle increased water and sewer rates in 2009 by 40 percent to balance a budget that was 8 percent lower than in 2008-09, White said. He said the city is facing the prospect of raising rates by 25 percent and increasing sewer rates by 15 percent.

Public safety and public works were two areas that were heaviest hit by this budget. The public safety budget declined from $1.62 million in 2009-10 to $1.41 million for the upcoming fiscal year budget, reflecting a 13 percent decrease. About $10,000 was taken from the public works budget, which is projected to operate with $434,215 this upcoming year as compared to $444,326 last year.

Health and welfare and transportation received bumps in this year's budget. Approximately $20,000 more is allocated to health and welfare to reflect a shift in reimbursements from the Georgia Department of Transportation for city bus drivers' salaries and more than $21,000 additional is slated for Better Hometown.