“The fiscal year 2015 budget is nothing more than a continuation of the 2014 budget,” City Manager Kevin McBurnett told the council. “Our millage rates remain the same at 2.4 mils.”
The balanced budget — $1.35 million in revenue versus $1.35 million in expenses — takes effect July 1 and continues through June 30, 2015. Nearly 60 percent of revenue is derived from taxes and 22 percent comes from fines and forfeitures while 40 percent of expenditures is devoted to public safety, 34 percent to administration costs and 12 percent to public works.
The budget is a compilation of the general, water, solid waste and confiscated assets funds and the capital budget.
The general fund budget increased by only 2.4 percent, according to McBurnett, while the water fund budget increased by 33 percent.
“In 2014, the city created the new Red Top Water System,” McBurnett said. “It consists of more than 10,000 linear feet of water and sewer lines to accommodate the LakePoint development, which is estimated to require 1.85 million gallons per day.”
McBurnett noted there is no increase in water rates.
The solid waste fund budget increased by 25 percent due to the adoption of a new ordinance that increases service while providing the revenue to maintain the fund.
The capital budget is made up of the remaining projects from the 2003 and 2008 Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax (SPLOST), current projects from the 2014 SPLOST and revenue from the general fund and the water fund. Anticipated expenses include the purchase of a new police car and the required accessories while a portion of the water fund will be used to rehabilitate degrading water and sewer lines.
The council unanimously approved the budget.
Other anticipated expenses include two hirings in the Public Works department, hiring an additional police officer and possibly hiring a finance director.
Council continued a discussion about allowing churches and nonprofits to avoid paying the mandatory trash pick-up fees, something the Emerson Masonic Lodge requested at the last meeting.
“We have to be very careful if we decide to allow this,” McBurnett said. “It could open the door for a lot of people to jump on board. We must clearly define what a nonprofit is. Some of the ‘nonprofits’ we see are nothing more than ways to avoid taxes.”
Council member Ed Brush noted that utilities like AT&T, Georgia Power and the water company don’t give breaks just for being a nonprofit.
“It’s a very slippery slope,” he said.
Council tabled any action until the next meeting.
The Emerson City Council will meet Monday, July 14, at 7 p.m. in a joint meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission.