Fiscal 2014 budget process underway in Warner Robins

Golf course looks to cut $50K

chwright@macon.comApril 10, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Bird chirps of springtime also signify number-crunching at City Hall.

The budget process for fiscal 2014 is now underway, and the city golf course oversight board met Wednesday to hear how it will sustain a possible $50,000 budget cut, a result of adjustments to city employee salaries last year.

“They (the city) had an extra $1 million they were going to have to find, so every department is having to cut its budget,” said D.C. Childs, chairman of the Building Authority.

The authority oversees the International City Golf Course. Expenses for fiscal year 2014 are estimated at $523,000. The city transfers money from its general fund every year. For fiscal 2013, it was $150,000. That may decrease to $100,000 for fiscal 2014.

Last year, City Council approved an adjustment to city salaries based on a study from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, which found wages to be largely inadequate. The city now has to account for the rise in payroll and benefits in its fiscal 2014 budget.

Mayor and council must settle on the budget before the new fiscal year begins July 1.

Bill Harte, the city’s finance director, said he expects each department will give him a desired budget by the end of the week. He will compile them for Mayor Chuck Shaheen, who will present a full budget to City Council.

“We’re still in the preliminary phases,” Harte said.

Harte said he was not aware of any departments being asked to cut their budgets. Shaheen did not return a message for comment.

Childs said no official directive was given to cut the golf course budget, but Shaheen and the two councilmen on the Building Authority board informally suggested the reduction. Councilman Daron Lee and Paul Shealy serve on the five-member board.

At Wednesday’s meeting, golf pro Jarred Reneau reviewed the line items with two board members. To account for the $50,000 cut, “we just basically took out our capital expenses,” Reneau said.

About $550,000 is earmarked in the 2012 special purpose local option sales tax for course improvements, and Reneau said the golf course will depend on that for capital expenses.

About $210,000 of the SPLOST funds already have been spent through financing on equipment and a new course bathroom.

Reneau pinched money from several small line items to make up for increases in the fertilizer and travel line items.

Childs explained $5,000 more in travel has been set aside, so Reneau no longer has to pay for training and golf tours out of his own pocket when he is representing the International City Golf Course.

Reneau said the increase in fertilizer is to keep up the course improvements he has done over the past two years.

“Our line items have pretty much stayed the same for 10 years,” Reneau said.

John Havrilla, a new board member and former interim mayor, said the course is faring well, considering it cannot charge the rates private courses can.

“Our target market is a little bit different than the private play; however, we want to be as self-sustaining as possible,” he said.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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