ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany City Manager James Taylor offered an early warning to department heads Tuesday as they prepare to dive headlong into the 2013-14 budget process: Get ready to make cuts.
Taylor told the Albany City Commission at its work session that he's preliminarily instructed department heads to start looking at potential 10 percent cuts and personnel reductions.
"Tax revenue has just started to come in, so I've got to look at incoming funds before I can make a final analysis," Taylor told the commission. "But I know I'm going to have to cut more than $5 million from the budget, so we're going to have to find ways to make some significant cuts."
Taylor said the FY 2014 budget calendar calls for meetings with individual department heads starting in April.
Commissioners were also given a short list of potential sites for the ongoing multimodal transportation center at Tuesday's meeting. Assistant City Manager Wes Smith, who said engineers and planning officials reviewed possible sites Monday and Tuesday, listed four prospects that would meet the needs of the site: the old China Palace restaurant, the existing transit center and the former Heritage House sites, all on Oglethorpe Boulevard, and the former Carmike Cinema site on Gillionville Road.
"We'll do a cost analysis on all of the sites and make a recommendation to the commission," Smith said. "We'll consider any issues -- such as demolition work -- that might add to the cost of the project at each site."
Ward II Commissioner Ivey Hines said the board should reconsider its decision to eliminate the proposed site on Washington Street as a location for the multimodal center.
"It doesn't make economic sense to exclude that property," he said.
The commission listened to a report from David Blackwell on the Albany-Dougherty Coalition to End Homelessness's 10-year plan, which includes short-, mid- and long-range goals. Blackwell said development of the plan is a first for the coalition.
Blackwell also told the board census workers had recorded one homeless person in Albany during its count, even as his group's most recent homeless count documented 699 such individuals in the county.
"The Dougherty County School System has told us they service more than 800 homeless children, so I believe even our count is low," Blackwell said.
Expressing concern that the low census number might impact funding for future homeless projects in the city, Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell said, "I know there's more than one homeless person in Albany. Ray Charles can see that, and he's blind."
The board tentatively voted to change the name of Champion Lane by the courthouse to J.P. Champion Lane after staff had recommended changing the name to Courthouse Lane. EMS had been called recently to Champion Avenue in Southeast Albany and mistakenly went to Champion Lane.
Elizabeth Champion, the granddaughter of civic-minded innovator J.P. Champion, for whom the downtown street was named, asked the board not to change the name of Champion Lane so that it could memorialize other members of her family as well. Postell and Hines led efforts to assure the name change would not take away the honor intended for J.P. Champion.
"The man gave 70 years of community service," Postell said. "We shouldn't come along all these years later and take that honor away."