Warner Robins adopts 2010 budget

WARNER ROBINS — Warner Robins citizens will get the chance to voice their opinions on proposed salary increases for the mayor and City Council.

During Monday’s meeting, the council voted to advertise an ordinance that would increase the mayor’s annual salary by $25,000 and the City Council members’ annual salaries by $2,400. The mayor currently makes $100,000 and the council, $7,400. The increases would kick in January 2010.

The timing of the motions comes more than two months before citizens can qualify to run for the mayor’s position as well as City Council seats up for grabs in November. Law requires that the ordinance be advertised for three weeks. Then the council has to sit through two readings of the ordinance before voting on it. The salary cannot be increased after the qualifying date.

City councilman Terry Horton, who said he doesn’t plan to run, made the motions to increase both salaries because of the mayor’s position as a full-time employee and the City Council’s dedication.

“This has been a very active council,” Horton said. “I think they are entitled to a little more money.”

Mayor Donald S. Walker supported increasing the City Council’s pay because he said there duties are growing everyday. However, he said he felt the mayor’s salary was ample and has voted against it in the past. City Councilmen Horton, Tom Simms, Bob Wilbanks, John Williams and John Havrilla voted for the increase while Clifford Holmes abstained.

Walker said with the bad economy, it would be irresponsible to ask the citizens to pay for an increase.

“I don’t think the mayor of Warner Robins should make as much as the governor does,” Walker said, speaking of the more than $137,000 Gov. Sonny Purdue makes a year.

However, Havrilla, who was the sole vote against the City Council raise, said the scope of the mayor’s duties as the CEO of a city with 500 employees lends itself to a raise.

In other action, the City Council approved a fiscal year 2010 general fund budget amounting to $34.9 million.

The budget calls for $6.3 million to go to general government, $639,452 for judicial, $19.5 million to go toward public safety, $4.7 million for public works, $1.7 million for culture and recreation and $748,653 for housing and development. The budget also lists a total of $205,000 for other uses. The general fund will receive a transfer of $1 million from the city’s water and sewer fund, $2.6 million from the natural gas fund, $350,000 from the sanitation fund and $396,5000 from the tourist allocation board. The budget doesn’t call for any tax increases or layoffs, but does allow for a 3 percent merit raise.

During the pre-council meeting, the City Council continued to conduct alcohol license revocation hearings. The City Council issued a warning to Yesterdaze, which allowed an underage person to enter and buy alcohol April 17. It was the business’s first offense.

However, the City Council voted 4-2 to not reduce the suspension on ShowTime’s license from 30 to 20 days. Walker and Holmes voted in favor of the shorter time.

ShowTime appeared before the City Council on May 18 and again June 1.

The suspension came as a result of multiple incidents taking place since it opened April 16.

According to City Council documents, the establishment was the site of assaults, fighting and marijuana use April 25. April 30, an underage person was allowed to enter the business and purchase alcohol. May 8, marijuana use took place in the parking lot and ShowTime operated after hours.

To contact writer Natasha Smith, call 923-3109, extension 236.