Cartersville Council gets first look at 2013-14 budget
by Neil B. McGahee
May 24, 2013 | 1527 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cartersville City Council got its first look Thursday at the $145,329,420 budget prepared for fiscal year 2014. The bad news — revenues are down and expenses are up. The good news — no property tax increases.

“Some of the points worth noting about the budget includes an increase in water and sewer rates,” Finance Director Tom Rhinehart said, “ and for the first time in many years, the general funds decreased by $464,000.”

In fact, about half the funds making up the budget actually made money. The electrical fund increased by $2.4 million; the gas fund increased by $2.3 million and the water and sewer fund increased by nearly $300,000.

City employees may not fare as well as those they serve. Health insurance costs will jump to $50 per pay period for individual employees, $162 per pay period for employee and spouse; and $177 per pay period for an employee with a family. Retirees will see their pensions decrease by 14 percent.

The Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax from 2003 decreased nearly $2 million; SPLOST 2007 decreased by 2.6 million; and SPLOST 2014 increased by nearly $87,000.

Among the items listed in the 118-page proposed budget are:

• $16,386,570 for the city school system, a $70,000 increase

• $2.7 million for

operating expenses

• nearly $10 million in salaries and benefits

“The budget process was tasked to the city manager,” Mayor Matt Santini said. “He gets with his department heads and pulls everything together and certainly with declining revenues and increased costs in things like insurance, it creates a perfect storm. There’s lots of thing we would like to do that we’re not going to be able to do.”

Santini was quick to note that Cartersville is faring a lot better than some other cities.

“Certainly adjusting contributions from employees is not a decision that anyone takes lightly,” he said. “And we need to take a more proactive approach to the pension situation. We’ve had a lot of information to digest in the past 90 minutes and everything on here is simply a proposal at this point. We have about a month to make any changes.”

The Cartersville City Council will meet at city hall on Thursday, June 6 at 7 p.m. for the first reading of the budget.