Cedartown Commissioners will be deciding in December the final figures are coming together for the FY 2019 budget.
City Manager Bill Fann presented the board with a preliminary list of what the administration is requesting for the coming year starting in January, and expected that numbers are likely to adjust slightly once more before they give a final seal of approval.
“It was a tight budget this year, and it will be a tight budget again for the coming year,” Fann told commissioners.
He wasn’t kidding.
The preliminary budget numbers already shared with the city commission seeks to generate $8,320,250 in revenue for the general fund, with a tight list of expenditures tallied up to $8,314116 on the year. It would still leave the city with a slight increase in their surplus, with figures likely to jump from an ending balance in 2018 at $3,365,091 to a 2019 ending balance of $3,371,225.
The expenditures break down to a requested cost of $160,350 for the city commission, $127,370 for the city manager, $1,461,600 for the city clerk and administration costs, and $212,615 for finance department costs to take care of the administrative day-to-day tasks of running Cedartown’s municipal government. The preliminary budget also requests $198,206 for the cost of building maintenance, $881,060 for the streets and public works department, $207,155 on upkeep of the cemeteries and $425,920 for Parks and Recreation.
The largest expenditures remain in the city’s funding of public safety, with $38,000 for the municipal court, $2,625,667 for the police department, $1,398,828 for the Fire Department, and $76,300 for code enforcement. Some of those numbers have fluctuated up and down depending on the needs of the department annually.
For instance, the adopted budget in 2018 gave the Cedartown Police Department slightly less funds as expenditures were set at $2,447,145 for the year compared to the $2,656,220 adopted in 2017.
The requested budget for the Cedartown Police is back up for the coming year, but might move back down slightly depending on the ongoing work ahead of approval needed during the December session.
The City’s new tourism and economic development department is a cost that combines several positions into one group within Cedartown government, and the first year budget is set at $340,285.
It bundles downtown development and the auditorium costs under one line item for the proposed 2019 budget.
The only other cost to the city are for transportation at $71,060 to run the senior bus service, and for $88,900 for the Cedartown Public Library.
The city also included figures for the forthcoming water and wastewater revenues and costs for 2019, expecting around $3,324,399 on water and sewer payments, and around $3,081,751 in expenditures to run the system.
Some of those costs are expected to decrease with forthcoming wastewater upgrades as the city seeks to find some relief through equipment upgrades on maintenance costs on older pumps and lines.
For the overall figures for 2019, Fann gives a lot of the credit to the city’s head of Finance, Amy Orebaugh.
Fann said he believed the work he and Orebaugh put in on the budget – along with help from department heads who are still seeking to keep within a 3 to 5 percent margin of spending based on what they asked for in the 2018 budget – make the job easier of putting together the figures all the easier, even if there are differences of opinion about where the city’s priorities might be at any given time, or over what is really available to utilize from year to year.
“We're in good shape, and we intend to stay there. It takes a lot of effort. It takes team work,” Fann said.
He added that because the general fund budget is only for operating expenses and doesn’t include capital outlay projects, it is “workable” and does give the city some wiggle room should emergencies arise.
Following budget discussions at the November work session, the city manager also got to bring up another bit of happy news for commissioners and employees alike: health insurance group premiums are likely going down.
He attributed some of the savings to a program in place with Primary Healthcare to reduce the number of claims for doctor’s visits by paying for services to employees and their immediate family up front, but said he wasn’t sure if that was the only contributing factor to the 2.6 percent decrease for the coming year.
The news came just in time for the city to hold an annual required meeting for employees to renew their healthcare benefits held on Wednesday, with additional news about the city’s annual one-time salary enhancement also approved.
Fann said that employees across the board are getting a 3.5 percent one-time payment ahead of the holiday shopping season, an annual tradition within the city. Commissioners gave their support without any issue.
City officials also discussed next year’s paving list, which includes a number of sections in dire need of repair which includes the stretch 10th street in the Westside Industrial Park, which is heavily used by truck traffic on a daily basis coming and going from The HON Company. Fann said it was one of the stretches of paving the company specifically requested.
Noyes from Philpot to Main Street is also on the list in the downtown area as well, along with Cedar Street, Georgia Avenue, East Queen Street, West Queen Street, Georgia Lane, Valley Drive and College Circle.
2018’s LMIG paving recently finished up during the fall months included a stretch of West Girard Avenue between 10th and 6th street, a portion of Philpot Street, Blanche Road, Second Street, LaDue Street, Slusser Street, Stubbs Street, Third Street, Cleo Street and Jones Street. Costs for that totaled up to $175,808.
The City also is looking at changes to their retirement plan requested by GMEBS, or the Georgia Municipal Employee Benefit System. They’ll be looking to institute an alternative 80-rule, where employees who haven’t reached retirement age will have the option if their years of service and their current age equal out to 80 or greater. It would have no effect on existing employees and how the city pays out benefits annually, but those who come on board after the change will have to fall within the new rules.
“This will be for those who replace all of us and are going away in 20 years, which is most everyone here,” Fann said. “That will change their formula.”
Those changes are expected in the weeks and months to come.