Projected expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year are $11,635,793, down from 12,696,972 in 2009; revenues are projected at $12,149,442, down from $13,062,520.
City council members are considering raising the millage rate from the current 1.615 to 2.5 mils, which based on an estimated $800 million digest, explained City Administrator Eddie Peterson, would generate approximately $2.01 million.
The remaining gap, he said, would be filled with reserves.
The city plans to pull about $330,000 from reserves, which will leave three months of op-erating money in the reserve fund; Peterson said the city requires about $1.2 million per month to operate the general fund.
Council members discussed raising the millage rate further during their Monday, May 11, work session, but instead ended up leaning toward gleaning extra revenue by raising city trash pickup costs from $2 to $4 The garbage pickup fund stands alone and is not part of the general fund, Peterson explained. An increase would still leave trash rates below those of the other major area provider, a private company, he said.
Projected revenues for the city for fiscal year 2010 include $2,298,800 in property taxes, down from $1,852,200 from projected fiscal year 2009 numbers; $2,005,00 in LOST
(Local Option Sales Tax), down from 2,140,000; $2,381,583 in rents and royalties, including payments from utilities, down from $2,681,995; and $346,500 from beer, wine and liquor taxes, the only revenue that is projected to increase.
“I know those are not pretty numbers,” Peterson told the mayor and council.
“What do we have reserves for?” asked Mayor Jimmy Palmer, to which Peterson re-sponded, “rainy days.”
There are no extra funds budgeted for capital equipment replacement in the general budget, said Peterson. Other ways the city is saving money, he said, include city staff clean-ing their own facilities in city hall, a reduction in employee cell phones, four 10-hour days of work per week for the public works staff and ceasing the practice of mowing Georgia De-partment of Transportation right of ways, which add up to several miles throughout the city.
The utilities budget includes $48,939,113 in projected revenues, down from $53,957,832 from the 2008-2009 budget. Expenses are projected at $48,303,383.
Proposed is a five percent average increase on water rates and 10 percent sewer service increase.
Council Member David Hammond said he disliked the idea of raising rates during difficult economic times. “I think we’re head and shoulders” above similar size utility depart-ments, he said, but added, “this is a tough year … (constituents) are asking me to be their advocate.” The increases would still leave Calhoun in the top handful of cities in the region for the lowest rates, however, according to City Utilities Director Kelly Cornwell.
With the proposal, Calhoun’s inside rates (inside the city’s incorporated area) would rise from $16 to $18 for 6,000 gallon per month users. Outside rates (outside the city’s incorpo-rated area) would increase from $22 to $23 for these users, which Cornwell said make up the majority of city water customers.
The resulting revenue would be about $1.1 million, said Finance Department Director Andrea Bramlett, but the city would still be about $600,000 short with those extra funds.
Recently-released city-compiled water and sewer rate studies compare Calhoun’s proposed rates to current rates for 15 surrounding city and county systems. Calhoun’s proposed rates remain in the bottom 25th percentile of almost all the rate categories even without the availability of possible upcoming rate increases for most of the other communities listed.
“We’re very proud of where we are position-wise,” Cornwell said.
Outsiderates remain higher than inside rates because of the greater cost, mostly from in-frastructure, involved in providing service to outlying areas, he explained.
A public hearing date of June 8 is set for the final reading of the city budget.
The May 25 City Council meeting has been moved to Monday, May 18, at 7 p.m. at the Calhoun Depot. A work session will precede the meeting at noon at the city annex.
Also at the May 11 meeting of the Calhoun City Council, council members:
* Approved a taxi license request for Calhoun Tax Company for a location of 528 Court Street.
* Set a public hearing date of May 18 for a taxi license request by Edwin Herrera-Borjorquez for a location of 1310 Highway 41 North.
* Heard the second reading of the new city zoning map.
* Set a public hearing date of June 8 for a variance request by James E. Warren for a 10-foot rear setback to build a 480-squear-foot building at 125 Brandon Court.
* Approved a pawn license request by Luke Lester for Title Pawn Lenders, Inc. for a location of 330 Piedmont Street.
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