WARNER ROBINS — City Council approved a $35 million budget Monday night for the 2011 fiscal year — after a tie vote was broken by Mayor Chuck Shaheen — that included no major cuts to programs and no layoffs or furloughs for employees.
The vote was immediately rescinded after Councilman Daron Lee reminded the mayor and council that it would take unanimous approval of the budget to waive a second reading of the budget ordinance.
A special meeting will be called before June 30 to hash out council concerns for the budget that, among other things, deleted tuition reimbursements for several members of the police department working on doctorate degrees.
Several council members seemed to be hung up on receiving estimated fund balances for the city’s various accounts. Chief Financial Officer Bill Harte said official numbers were not available as they would only be estimates.
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Councilmen Mike Daley and Bob Wilbanks argued for having the figures ahead of making a vote in favor of the budget.
Wilbanks also asked for the fund balances at a called meeting Thursday. Harte said then what he said Monday night — that the numbers were not available as they would only be rough estimates.
Still, Wilbanks wants the numbers before making a decision.
“I just think we ought to know what we have,” Wilbanks said during Monday’s pre-council session.
“Like I said earlier, financing is sound, but we’re not out of the woods in terms of the economy,” Harte said. “Right now, I’m asking you to be cautious and be very conservative.”
“We’re going to be cautious,” Wilbanks continued, “but I want everybody to know Warner Robins is in good shape.”
Council breezed through a called meeting Thursday, just pointing out items of concern.
The budget, with $34,685,022 expected for the city’s general fund, is down slightly from the fiscal year 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.
A group of residents from the Jefferson Hill subdivision came with pointed questions regarding the completion of the city’s planned sports complex behind Huntington Middle School, as well as what the city had planned for a blighted portion of the city north of Green Street between Ga. 247 and Davis Drive. Shaheen asked a representative of the neighborhood group to e-mail their concerns to him and the council so they could be addressed.
The council also approved renaming the 100 and 200 blocks of Alabama Avenue to Nix Way in honor or retiring Northside High School football coach Conrad Nix. The street runs behind Northside High School, giving access to the school’s various sports fields
About 100 people packed council chambers for the pre-council session. The session, normally held in the second-floor conference room, was moved to allow for more seating. Still, some 60 people stood along the chamber walls, or outside in the City Hall lobby area.
To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.