Porterdale set to vote on budget Thursday

PORTERDALE -- The City Council is poised to hold a public hearing on what has been called a "bare bones" budget at a called meeting tonight, although members agreed that the figures may change after budget work sessions in January.

City Manager Bob Thomson presented a 2012 general fund budget totaling $822,421 at Monday night's called meeting of the City Council. The budget calls for continuing city employee furloughs of four hours per week.

Thomson presented council members with options of discontinuing the furloughs in January and ending them at mid-year. A full year of furloughs would save the city $32,123; a half year of furloughs would save $16,062.

"We wouldn't recommend immediately relieving the furloughs because we don't know what our cash flow will be," Thomson told the council. "As you know, we don't have a reserve (fund)."

The budget calls for reduced expenditures for attorney fees by $20,000, Thomson said. Attorney fees are budgeted at $10,000 for the year, which includes a retainer of $4,800. New spending in the budget includes $5,000 for GIS mapping of storm drains that is required by the state Environmental Protection Division and $10,000 for sidewalks and construction of handicap ramps. Both of those expenditures will be funded through 2005 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax dollars.

"Because of uncertainty with revenue and the general economic situation we are in, we are giving you a very bare bones budget," Thomson said.

Thomson recommended that the council approve the budget, which would likely take place at a called meeting Dec. 22, with the understanding that the document could be amended or a new budget adopted in January. Thomson said the state Department of Audits recommends that the city adopt a balanced operating budget in order to remain in compliance with state guidelines.

Councilmember Lowell Chambers recommended that the city adopt the most conservative of the options prior to the end of the year in order to maintain the city's eligibility for state grants.

Councilwoman Linda Finger asked that the budget be revisited in work sessions in January in order to allow newly-elected council members Tim Savage and Anita Rainey to have input on the final document.

A public hearing on the budget will be held tonight at 6:30 at City Hall. The council could then vote on the budget at a called meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 22.