WARNER ROBINS — City officials received no public input during the first chance for residents to speak on the city’s proposed budget for the 2011 fiscal year.
The budget, set at $34,685,022 for the city’s general fund, is down slightly from the 2010 budget of $34.9 million, but up just more than $1 million from what was actually used. The budget includes about $6.5 million to cover salaries, benefits and operations costs for the mayor, council and general administration in the city.
When the council closed its semi-monthly meeting just after 8 p.m. Monday to begin the first public meeting, none of the 50 or so people in attendance moved to the lectern.
One more public meeting will take place before City Council can vote for its approval, which is expected before June 30.
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The mayor and council also discussed audits that are either mandatory or have been sought by members of the group. Among them are an end-of-year audit for the city and a change of management audit, looking at practices of the previous administration.
One thing that will come out in the audit is that the city spent more than $500,000 on overtime alone.
Councilman Daron Lee said Monday during the council’s pre-council session that he felt it was too late for the council to do a change of management audit, given the current council has been seated together more than six months.
He said he’s asked the auditing firm to look into certain areas of the city while doing the audit to see whether any wrongdoing is found.
“I’ve received some information that raised some red flags,” Lee said Tuesday. “Plus, there’s other information that’s slowly been given to me ... in confidence.”
The mayor and others on the council asked where Lee received his information, with Mayor Chuck Shaheen mentioning that city workers going to the council with information of such a nature should be grounds for insubordination.
That feeling was exactly why Lee felt he should keep his sources confidential, fearing for their standing within the city.
“I don’t feel comfortable with the mayor knowing where this information’s coming from,” Lee said in response to Shaheen’s comments at Monday’s meeting.
The council also discussed annexing unincorporated areas into the city. City Attorney Jim Elliott said he’s looking into annexing the “islands,” unincorporated areas of land surrounded by the city.
Two in particular are off Corder Road in the Hillandale Estates subdivision, which covers about 119 residences, and an area off Russell Parkway behind the Gold Cup Bowling Center, which is larger than the Corder Road island but has an unspecified number of homes affected.
Elliott said the advantage to the islands being annexed into the city is that residences will be afforded use of city emergency services such as police, fire and animal control. They may also see decreased insurance ratings and premiums, he said.
To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.