Kingston hosts empty public hearing
by Jason Lowrey
Jul 29, 2014 | 1365 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When the Kingston City Council opened its Monday night public hearing on the 2014 budget, it faced an empty room.

No Kingston residents came before the chamber to voice any opinion on the overdue budget, which council member Harold Posey believed came from either a feeling of trust in the council or indifference.

“Well, you can measure it two ways,” he said after the hearing closed. “Either they trust us and know we’re doing a good job, or they’re just not interested.”

With no public in attendance, the council took advantage of its gathering and discussed the proposed budget. The main topic was the $216,254 listed twice in the budget’s water summary. The amount is first given as a transfer in from the Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax fund, and, indeed, the same amount is listed as Kingston’s expected revenues from the voter-approved tax. However, the budget also lists the $216,254 as a capital water expense, thereby causing the water fund to list an overall decrease of $7,252 in net assets.

Mayor Wanda Penson said the city’s accountant, Sabrina Cape with Capable Financial Solutions, had not yet returned her calls in an attempt to clarify why the SPLOST amount was listed as a capital water expense, which led the council to guess at the rationale.

“They must have assumed all of that money was going to the water. I don’t know. ... It needs to come out,” Posey said.

As it could not officially conduct business during the meeting, the council unofficially decided to continue moving forward with the proposed budget as it is seven months late. Any changes could be made with future amendments, they concluded. Posey said the budget was a “working document” that could be amended at a later date. Council member Chuck Wise later agreed, saying the council would have “something to work with” by approving the budget.

Penson said she wanted to see the budget approved at the next businesses meeting. She cited the 2015 budget as one reason the city should not wait any longer in approving the proposed budget.

“I want it done before January, the 2015 [budget],” she said. “This is fixing to be August, so in about three months we will be working on the 2015.”

Overall, the 2014 proposed budget is balanced, with revenues and expenditures placed at $309,681. The Sunday, July 20, edition of The Daily Tribune News contained a longer examination of Kingston’s budget.

The council canceled its Monday, Aug. 4, work session and moved it to the next week. The Kingston City Council will meet Monday, Aug. 11, at 6 p.m. for a work session and 7 p.m. for a business session at city hall.