FORT VALLEY — City Council, which got its first look at the proposed fiscal 2011 budget Tuesday, is considering a two mill tax increase for next year.
That would amount to about an $80 tax increase on a $100,000 home.
The increased tax is expected to generate about $280,000, which would be used to replenish the city’s reserves, City Administrator Martha McAfee said.
Reserves have dwindled to a projected $400,000 following some costly health insurance claims over the years, McAfee said. The city would like to have $1.2 million in the bank, which is three months of operating expenses, she said.
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The proposed general fund budget presented to council anticipates about $5.2 million in revenues and about $4.9 million in expenditures. Fort Valley’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
The proposed budget includes the following:
n The freezing of five police officer positions, one detective position and one police administrative position;
n Eliminating a cost-of-living raise for city employees;
n Increasing Municipal Court fines to the same level as the city of Byron;
n Receipt of $175,000 from the Utility Commission;
n Charging an administrative fee of $25 for new business licenses and business license renewal (currently there is no administrative fee);
n No capital expenditures in the general fund; and
n A $9,000 salary increase to $45,000 for the Public Works director.
In tinkering with the budget, council discussed doubling the price of city cemetery lots to $600 per lot and reducing the Downtown Development Authority/Mainstreet allocation from $75,000 to $65,000.
Although not included in the budget, there was much discussion about whether the mayor and council should take salary cuts. The mayor currently receives $1,000 per month, mayor pro tem receives $600 per month and council members receive $500 per month, McAfee said.
Councilwoman Beth Collins proposed cutting council members’ salaries in half, while Councilwoman Florine Statham disagreed.
“I’m not as fortunate as some of you. I cannot afford it,” Statham said. “I’m not coming up here for free.”
Mayor John Stumbo suggested making the salary reductions voluntary. Other council members agreed to that.
“The bottom line for me is some of us really need that salary and others don’t,” Stumbo said.
City Council will have another work session for the budget Tuesday at 6 p.m. There will be three public hearings on the millage rate to be held at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sept. 16, and 10 a.m. Sept. 30. Council expects to adopt the budget at its meeting Sept. 30.
To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 256-9705.