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$6.8M Powder Springs Budget Includes Staff Cuts, New Police Cars

During Wednesday's discussion of fiscal 2013, Council Al Thurman said he was "disappointed" that only $500 was proposed for economic development.

$6.8M Powder Springs Budget Includes Staff Cuts, New Police Cars

The proposed Powder Springs budget of $6.8 million for fiscal 2013 includes cutting an equivalent of 4.75 full-time city employees and the purchase of four new Dodge Chargers for the police force.

“We’re looking at a very tight general fund budget,” interim City Manager Brad Hulsey said, “and we have in essence got some one-time opportunities that we’ve got in there just to be able to balance the budget.”

The budget is up $50,000 from the current fiscal year, which by contrast from the prior year. That budget, fiscal 2011’s $7.1 million, laid off five full-time and nine part-time employees.

This year has an expenditure increase of $223,000 and an expected revenue loss of $283,700, including a $172,000 drop in fines and forfeitures, and a predicted $171,700 fall in property taxes, which won’t be exact until tax collection in the fall.

If this year’s prediction holds up, it’ll eat away 7 percent of the roughly $4 million the city gets from property taxes.

“We have actually gone back and forth on (the amount of decline),” Hulsey said at Wednesday’s work session. “Of course, it’s really a matter of guesswork.”

Cobb has predicted a 4 percent decrease, and Hulsey said he believes Powder Springs will be a bit more.

The majority of the city’s revenue—63 percent—comes from property taxes. Other sources of note include charges for services (17 percent), and fines and forfeitures (6 percent).

That money is then distributed:

  • —44 percent
  • General Government—30 percent
  • Streets and Lights—11 percent
  • —10 percent
  • Municipal Court—3 percent
  • Community Events and Programs—2 percent

The 4.75 worth of full-time layoffs comes from gained efficiency and outsourcing, Hulsey said. This will save the city about $225,000 annually and bring its workforce down to an equivalent of 83.5 full-time employees. (Decimals come from part-time work.)

The proposed budget also features $200,000 to go toward paying off a 2006 bond. That money was going to be used to relocate the if Norfolk Southern , but Hulsey said the company won’t be doing that for at least 10 years.

Other features include a $4,600 cut in advertising, and an expected health insurance increase of 20 percent, or $43,000.

New Police Cars

In December, Police Chief Charlie Sewell told the City Council that all 14 of the cars on the Powder Springs patrol fleet , and the maintenance bills on several of them are stacking up.

Then, the highest mileage was 120,000; that number is now 160,000.

On Wednesday, Hulsey reiterated Sewell’s suggestion from December to keep fresh vehicles rotated into the department “because our fleet is going to continue to gather miles on it, and we certainly want to have our police officers as they patrol our streets in a safe environment in the vehicle.”

The four fully equipped Chargers budgeted for this year will cost about $133,000.

Struggling with Stormwater

Dominating Wednesday’s discussion was talks of , which will be included in fall property taxes and will cost homeowners $36 annually, and businesses, schools and churches , depending on their size.

The fee is the result of increasing environmental regulations from the state and federal governments related to stormwater, which comes from rain not being able to penetrate surfaces like asphalt and roofs. It will also contribute to drainage infrastructure, including piping under Sailors Parkway that is causing dips in the road and could get worse if nothing is done.

“We can’t leave it alone any longer or we’re going to have a catastrophe,” Director Greg Ramsey said of needed infrastruture projects.

On Wednesday, council members were shown photos of deteriorating conditions around the city—standing water in Powder Springs Passive Park, trash buildup in streams, damaged pipes, and the Sweetwater Avenue bridge off Brownsville Road, which was damaged in the 2009 floods.

“It was not that it was ill-conceived or ill-built; it was just the flood came in and wiped it out,” Hulsey said.

Mayor Pat Vaughn said of the images: “It really opens your eyes.”

In its first year, the fee is expected to have a 95 percent collection rate and bring in $324,000—$69,000 of which will pay the salary of a current city employee to take on stormwater projects, and $217,000 for repairs, maintenance and infrastructure improvement.

Economic Development

Councilman Al Thurman said he was “disappointed” that only $500 is proposed for economic development. He noted that increasing the city’s tax base depends on growth, and described the Fanning Institute spending money and time .

“Money was spent for this survey for this report,” he said, “and we did not put one dime toward economic development.”

He also noted the representatives from the Cobb Chamber who gave an update earlier in the work session on the Cobb Competitive EDGE. The county-wide program aims to complete a comprehensive economic development strategy over five years.

Thurman suggested “thinking outside the box on how we’re going to grow our economy and at least increase our tax base.”

Hulsey said: “Certainly if it was the will of the mayor and council, Mr. Thurman, we would be more than happy to find the funding.”

The money might already be there, Thurman said, mentioning the $2.7 million the city has saved up for five-plus months of reserves, and $75,000 left over in contingency from the current fiscal year.

He also noted the $90,000 in the account of the defunct Development Authority of Powder Springs.

Hulsey said a DAPS board could be formed and decide on something to allocate that money to.

The first of two readings on the proposed $6.8 million fiscal 2013 budget is scheduled for Monday night at 7 at the . The budget year will run from July 1 to June 30, 2013.

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