Leesburg Council tweaks budget

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Life under the new distribution formula for local-option sales tax funds may not be as painful as Leesburg City Council members initially feared.

Council members gathered Monday afternoon to adjust their spending plan for the second half of the fiscal year, which ends in June 2013.

The task was to come up with ways to shave about $75,000 from the budget because Leesburg's share of LOST funds will go from the current rate of 17.5 percent to 13 percent in January.

"I'm personally not in a panic mode," said council member Bob Wilson before the discussion began, expressing confidence the necessary cuts could be made.

Mayor Jim Quinn said the city can save about $40,000 by not replacing two positions in its public works department. Because of improvements in technology involving meter reading, Quinn said the department can do without two employees.

Council members also agreed not to spend $55,000 it had allocated to purchase a tractor. The tractor would have replaced an older tractor that is used for right-of-way mowing.

Further reductions will come from the Leesburg Police Department. Chief Charles Moore said he can delay the purchase of two in-car and four body cameras recently approved by the Council.

Moore said he will delay making the purchase until next July. That will save about $18,000 he said.

Moore also said he can save about $6,300 in overtime costs by a procedural change in the city's Municipal Court. In the future, Moore said, anyone pleading not guilty will be asked to return to the next court session.

That move will prevent all city officers from having to appear at each court session.

Councilman Sidney Johnson said the council should take a closer look at the contributions its makes to various local organizations.

"We might can cut some of that out by the same percentage," Johnson said. No action was taken on that suggestion.

Wilson, noting that another $75,000 may have to be trimmed in July, said it is possible the economy will improve and eliminate the need for future cutbacks.

"It would definitely help if the economy picked up," Wilson said.

Additional retail sales would mean additional funds for the city.