No new taxes in Powder Springs
by Emily Boorstein
May 31, 2014 04:00 AM | 2641 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
POWDER SPRINGS — City residents won’t see their taxes increase under a proposed $15.7M budget unveiled this week.

They also won’t see any of their services cut, and most city workers can anticipate getting a raise for the first time since 2009, according to city manager Brad Hulsey.

During a budget work session, Hulsey presented a total city budget for fiscal 2015 that will balance revenues and expenses at $15,657,189, an increase of 5.67 percent, or $887,302, over the existing fiscal 2014 adopted budget.

The city’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

Hulsey has put forward a balanced, general fund budget that he says will balance revenues and expenses at $7,084,700, an increase of 2.7 percent, or $193,385, over the existing fiscal 2014 adopted budget.

He noted, however, after budget amendments during fiscal 2014, the proposed city and general fund budgets are, in fact, 1 percent less than what they were a year ago.

Hulsey explained budget amendments passed by the city council allow for money to be transferred from one fund to another for one-time expenses, such as buying new trucks for the sanitation department, and are not used for salaries.

He said $2,636,659 of the general budget will be set aside for the Powder Springs Police Department, which is $198,377 down from last year’s allocation of $2,835,036. The general fund also includes money for a take-home car program.

“The mayor, City Council and city staff have worked diligently to create a budget that meets the present and future needs of our citizens,” Hulsey said. “That provides for the well-being of the city employees who help make the day-to-day operations of the city flow in a professional, efficient and timely manner.”

The budget will fund 86 positions, including 31 full-time and five part-time police officers, Hulsey said. It also provides for the addition of two city employees.

“New proposed positions include a full-time custodial/property management position in the general fund administrative department, and a part-time collections specialist in the water/sewer utilities department,” Hulsey said, and added that no jobs are being eliminated.

Raises for non-elected city workers will be based on longevity, Hulsey said, and range from a 1 percent increase for those who have worked for Powder Springs for two years or less, to a five percent raise for employees who’ve been with the city for at least 15 years.

Elected officials, such as the mayor and city council members, will not see a pay increase, Hulsey said.

Mayor Pat Vaughn said offering raises excites her the most about the budget.

“I’ve been around since 1995, and I know in working with these employees that we have the best employees anywhere — they have weathered the storm,” Vaughn said. “It just feels good to finally be able to give them a raise to show our appreciation.”

She is also pleased the proposed budget will bump up the city’s contribution for employee’s health care costs. The city will pay 75 percent of its workers’ health, dental, group life insurance and long-term disability expenses, going up from paying 70 percent in fiscal 2014.

Vaughn said the proposed budget also includes the addition of curbside recycling and an alert system residents can sign up for through the city’s website.

Those who opt in will receive messages on their phones about severe weather, as well as non-emergencies such as water mains being shut off or changes to trash collection times.

Hulsey said the millage rate will remain at 8.5 mills, and that 1 mill collects $268,253 in Powder Springs.

Diane Belanger, the city’s finance director, said by taking a different approach with the budget than in years past, the city was able to see where it budgeting money it wasn’t spending.

Realigning those resources, Belanger said, is what is enabling the city to add the features like curbside recycling and the alert system without raising taxes.

She also said the city saved money from what the state paid out for retirement and liability insurance from the previous year.

The proposed budget projects the city will have an unassigned reserve fund of $5,693,787 in the general fund.

Also on hand, Hulsey said, is:

• $4,880,108 in the water/sewer fund;

• $841,053 in the sanitation fund, including revenues and expenses for recycling;

• $302,864 in the stormwater utility fund; and

• $62,001.08 in the seizure fund, which is monies seized by police department in cases such as drug seizures, and can only be used for public safety to purchase equipment like police vehicles or badges.

The city of Powder Springs does not have a fire department and is served by Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services, Hulsey said.

Powder Springs’ city council is scheduled to adopt the budget June 11.

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