Deadline for Columbus 2018 fiscal budget approaches, council makes changes

Deadline for Columbus 2018 fiscal budget approaches, council makes changes
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – City leaders have only weeks left to approve the fiscal budget for 2018. This, after making, even more, changes to the proposal during Tuesday's council meeting.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson acknowledging that she and her fellow council members have until the end of June to adopt a working budget.

"We have to have a budget in place by July 1 under state law," Tomlinson said, "So, we got time and we'll have it done."

Before the start of council's meeting, News Leader 9 asked the mayor if she expects any major changes to her recommended budget.

"The important things that were in the budget are still in the mayor's recommended budget," she said.

"I think we made it through very well. And as far as a fiscally prudent budget, given our circumstances, I'm happy with that," Tomlinson said.

The mayor's original budget started at $267 million, a drop-off from 2017's $270 million budget.

Several councilors motioning for more amendments to the now over $268 million budget, including raises for the city's chief appraiser, and allowing Muscogee County Marshal Greg Countryman to use the money already set aside for his department and, according to him, save the city a little bit of money.

"If you would allow me to use the $52,000 to purchase two pursuit vehicles without the technology package... just purchase two pursuit vehicles," Countryman said.

"I don't want to create something that's not going to work later on, but what we're willing to do is to take the technology from the older vehicles and try to put in into the newer vehicles."

The other impact taxpayers will see if this current budget is approved, an increase in the price of city services like ambulance services, business licenses, and after school programs.

The mayor's office has previously stated the rationale for the recommended budget is to generate more sales taxes to make up for the loss in revenue from 2017.

Ambulance services fees, both basic and advanced, would increase by $200. The fee for business licenses would also increase, from $50 to $75, and weekly rates for Muscogee County School District's before-and-after school programs will go up to $6 for each income bracket.

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