Centerville on track to approve budget later this month

Telegraph correspondentJune 3, 2014 

CENTERVILLE -- The city’s $7.6 million fiscal 2015 budget is on track for passage in two weeks.

The council heard a presentation and conducted a public hearing during its regular meeting Tuesday.

There was no official public comment during the budget hearing, but one resident voiced appreciation from his seat for the spending plan.

The council will pass the budget during its June 17 work session just ahead of the new fiscal year that begins in July.

City accountant Carol Harrison said two changes were made from the original budget presented last month:

• $10,000 was added for a tentative agreement with Warner Robins regarding estimated traffic signal fees;

• an additional $6.15 per employee per month was added for group life and accidental dismemberment and death insurance.

Harrison said the budget is based on the same millage rate as last year, though actual county property assessments won’t be known until late July or early August. Actual rates will be set then.

Councilman Cameron Andrews said because property assessments generally increase from year to year, he is concerned keeping the millage rate the same will actually equal a tax increase. He said he hopes the council will use a roll-back rate after assessment values are known, even if only slightly.

He and Mayor John Harley both indicated that if that was not possible, budget figures might be scaled back to accomplish a no-tax-increase budget.

Though the coming budget is technically 32 percent -- about $3.5 million -- less than the current budget, the fiscal 2014 budget contained $3 million in special purpose local option sales tax funds used to build the city’s new police station and remodel property for the city’s Municipal Court.

The new budget includes money for hiring an economic development employee; merit pay increases for employees based on annual evaluations; no across-the-board cost of living increases; no budgeted Christmas bonuses; no salary increase for department heads who received pay increases in March; and a fund to save for a new fire engine.

During audience comments, John Cox of Chase Circle commended police for the quick response after the recent report of a missing 7-year-old boy who lives on his street. He said a half-dozen police vehicles responded within minutes and searched for hours for the child, who eventually turned up.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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