Columbus City Council approves $275M+ operating budget for 2019; garbage fees slightly increase

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The 'ayes' have it, and with that, the city of Columbus will move into the 2019 fiscal year with its newly adopted operating budget.

Going into the City Council meeting on Tuesday, the city publicly disclosed the final budget number going into discussions.

The official number did not change, and the operational and capital improvement budget stayed at $275,340,292.

After the meeting, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said this budget is greater than those adopted in 2017 and 2018, but added this figure reflects the increase the city has seen in its revenue.

She says this is a figure that previously suffered because of the recession 10 years ago and other factors that impacted city sales taxes like recent sequestration at Fort Benning.

The budget itself includes several measures publicized by city leaders and others in the community. Tomlinson said the budget review committee ultimately prioritized several "critical" measures.

Those measures include approving a proposal for a 1.5 percent salary increase for full-time city employees, cost of living and healthcare adjustments, and a near $1,000 raise for new officers to join the Columbus Police Department.

Tomlinson, in her final contribution to the budget as mayor, said she believes the city will move forward with a leaner and more efficient government.

In other city government business, the council also approved an amendment to the city's garbage fee ordinance, changing the monthly fee from $17 to $18 per month.

Then, during executive session, city leaders and representatives from Friends of Historic Claflin, Inc. discussed amending their current lease agreement by extending the existing lease from 45 to 65 years.

The group is actively working, along with investors, to restore the area surrounding the historic building and to construct several dozen housing units.

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