Perry holds first department presentations for fiscal 2014 budget

chwright@macon.comMay 13, 2013 

PERRY -- The fire department may not be promised more firefighters to staff its upcoming new station, but it will be able to function, Fire Chief Joel Gray said.

“The administration’s recommendations for funding is totally within our bounds, and we’ll be able to work with it,” Gray told City Council.

Gray was one of four department directors who told council Tuesday they agree with the drafted fiscal 2014 budget. The Community Development, Economic Development and Recreation departments also presented.

As part of its regular budget season, Perry Council holds a series of hearings for department directors to talk about the proposal City Manager Lee Gilmour puts together.

Perry will also hold public hearings May 20 and June 3. Council is set to vote on the budget June 18. The fiscal year begins July 1. Gilmour’s drafted budget predicts $22.3 million in revenue and estimates $23.2 million in expenses. Transfers of about $1.9 million from enterprise funds will make up the shortfall as well as roll $1 million into fiscal 2015. The millage rate would remain at 14.3 mills.

In his recommendations, Gilmour stated council must find funding for more firefighters that is not included in his proposal. Council did not talk about that funding Tuesday, but Gray said he can function with the current staffing.

The new fire station will open in a few months. The fire chief said he will move three firefighters per shift from the current station when it opens.

“It just doesn’t give you the people spread across the board that ISO is looking for to change or decrease our ISO rating,” Gray said.

A total of 21 new firefighters is needed to meet ISO standards, according to Gray. Two of those would be shift commanders.Mary Beth Chew, Economic Development Director, spoke to council about the new position recommended. It would be a Main Street Coordinator to oversee downtown initiatives.

Doing so herself, “takes away from the time for me to work in other areas that you have asked for me to focus on,” Chew said. But council had a misunderstanding about where the funding for the position would come from. Gilmour agreed to research the hotel/motel tax and bring them explanations.

In Recreation, Director Rick Kilgore asked council to add an additional $2,000 for his budget for new football helmets. He said the current ones aren’t fitting as well as they once did.

In Community Development, Director Mike Beecham told council he needs more volunteers for code enforcement. Code enforcement was placed in residents’ hands a couple years ago, after the city could no longer fund positions.

Also at Monday’s meeting, council approved a one-year agreement to take over management of wastewater at Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter. Waves of wastewaters into the city treatment plant had been causing problems.

In a separate meeting upstairs, the Planning Commission voted 3-1 to allow Warner Robins Supply to maintain its sign hanging from the New Perry Hotel’s sign for eight months under the condition the lettering is painted a matching green.

Warner Robins Supply hung the sign at New Perry Hotel to direct traffic to the business, which some residents thought had closed. But such a sign on another business’ property is prohibited under Perry ordinances, and it also takes the New Perry Hotel sign over the size limit.

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

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