No tax increases for Warner Robins

July Fourth celebration, dog park also discussed

jmink@macon.comMay 20, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- The city has a balanced budget with no tax increases for the upcoming fiscal year, Mayor Chuck Shaheen said Monday during a council meeting.

Shaheen officially informed council members that the budget, with a revenue of about $35 million, is ready for review. A public presentation of the budget will be made June 3, and the council is expected to vote on the budget June 17. It must be approved by July 1.

A city spokeswoman said, due to slight changes that are being made, the budget could not be sent to The Telegraph until Tuesday morning.

“There are no tax increases, and that’s really good in these economic tough times,” Shaheen said. “We’ve worked really hard.”

Independence Day celebration

Federal sequestration cuts have heavily impacted Warner Robins’ annual July Fourth celebration, and the City Council decided Monday to offer some help.

The council unanimously voted to invest $30,000 in this year’s celebration, as once-reliable Air Force funding has disappeared under federal budget cuts. Event coordinators are scrambling for enough money to pull off this year’s event, and project director Allen Tatman asked the city for help during Monday’s pre-council meeting.

“We’re trying to save the show,” he said.

The event needs a total of about $100,000, and, including the city’s contribution, organizers have raised $67,000 so far. The city funding will come from non-obligated funds, Councilman Paul Shealy said.

Tatman and council members urged local businesses to donate. Business owners who are willing to make a donation can call the mayor’s office, they said.

“Hopefully we can (one day) grow it into something bigger,” Tatman said, “so we can have something like the Cherry Blossom or the Dogwood Festival. We really have nothing in this town.”

Dog park

A dog park might be on the way for Warner Robins, as one council member presented a plan for the initial phase of a multi-use park along Springwood Drive.

The estimated $600,000 park would eventually include a dog park, a disc golf course, a skate park, a horseshoe pit and other amenities. But the project is not set in stone, and Shealy suggested completing it in phases.

The first phase, at a rough estimate of $150,000, would include a dog park, rest rooms, parking, walking trails and possibly a pavilion. Once that project is completed, officials could decide whether to continue with the rest, Shealy said.

“What we’re asking for is a start,” he said. “At least we’d have a dog park there, and that seems to be the biggest demand.”

Some council members questioned how the project would be funded and whether that money would be pulled from existing projects, particularly the planned recreation complex.

“The issue is funding,” Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins said.

But other council members argued that enough money is available to pay for the first phase. Shaheen and council members suggested Shealy form a committee to further develop the initial phase of the project and come back for council approval.

Shealy also will try to snag some grants for the project, he said.

The recreation complex, slated to sit at Elberta and South Houston roads, is second on the city’s 2012 SPLOST project list.

The top priority is a new fire station, and the third is a plan for a passive park at Walker’s Pond on the city’s north side.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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