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Taylor: City's FY 2014 budget $108.6 million

A plan unveiled by Albany City Manager James Taylor would cut $820,000 from the city's current budget.

ALBANY, Ga. — City Manager James Taylor gave Albany City Commissioners their first detailed look at the city's proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget during the commission's work session Tuesday morning, and it was a budget that reflects the economic struggles of the region.

"Folks say the economy is looking up, but I believe it will be two or more years before we see any appreciable (positive) impact on our area," Taylor said. "This budget is one that takes a hard look at some areas of concern, and it's one that a lot of people won't like."

Taylor has set the city's FY 2014 budget at $108,600,000, an $820,275 decrease from the current budget. It includes the elimination of some 16 general fund and eight enterprise fund positions but adds 12 new stormwater management posts. Taylor noted that new stormwater management operations are expected to bring more than $2 million to the city's general fund in the latter part of the fiscal year.

"We looked at ways to provide city services with greater efficiency," Taylor said. "We approached (budget considerations) from the promise we made not to bring you a request with a tax increase.

"I tell you that your staff has reduced costs (during the current fiscal year); they are being good stewards of the taxpayers' money. They will continue to look for ways to provide quality services more efficiently."

Taylor's budget plan also includes no transfer of funds from the city's fund balance, which he said is crucial to maintaining a strong bond rating. A number of items he proposed are expected to stir passionate responses from the community and from city employees, including:

  • Reduction of full-time employees from 930 to 919. ("That's not as large a reduction as we need, but it's a move in the right direction," the city manager said.)
  • No cost-of-living or merit pay increases.
  • No citywide holiday fireworks (although funding is in the current budget for fireworks this year).
  • Elimination of funding for the Flint RiverQuarium ($150,000) and the Albany Civil Rights Institute ($50,000).
  • Elimination of the city's printing department (a $209,247 savings).
  • Funding (estimated at around $500,000) for the air traffic control tower at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport (a sequestration casualty that's being reconsidered by federal lawmakers).
  • Leaving 51 percent of the Albany Police Department's current unfilled positions unfunded. (Taylor said, though, that if APD Chief John Proctor has a crucial need for some of the positions, he would try to find funding to fill them.)

Taylor indicated additional cuts would be sought from areas that over the years have become something of sacred cows.

"We're going to look closely at some of the details: cellphones, take-home vehicles, uniforms that the city provides, duplication of services," Taylor said. "And we're going to look into nonprofits paying a fair share for services they receive like fire protection, law enforcement and stormwater usage. Our nonprofits are growing, but our digest isn't.

"The recreation folks aren't going to like it, but we're going to have to stop giving groups reduced costs for using our facilities and programs and have them pay for the services they receive. It's either that, or raise taxes."

Taylor said 59 percent of the city's revenue comes from three sources: property taxes ($15.2 million or 27 percent), sales taxes ($8.99 million, 16 percent) and Water, Gas & Light Commission transfer ($8.74 million, 16 percent).

Comments

Albanite 11 months, 1 week ago

I wonder who he means by "non-profits" which don't pay their share? Is it many, or just one?

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straightface 11 months, 1 week ago

PHOEBE!!!! Once they start paying for every business they own and got there name on the city will no longer be in a deficit...

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jglass 11 months, 1 week ago

This sounds like a good start. He definitely needs to stop the take-home vehicles, that is probably a huge expense. And, yes non-profits need to start paying something, because truth be known...................they are making profits!!!!

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straightface 11 months, 1 week ago

yep sounds super great... the city has too many secretaries... a secretary for this and one for that.. eliminate all and just have 1.. when I was a secretary I did everything for everybody and ate lunch at my desk... now secretaries need someone to back them for everything.. the 5th floor got 3..and for what.. some departments got a person to answer the phone then one to answer the phone for the person answering the phone then one to oversee when both or out... what a shame..so many lazy secretaries now..

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whattheheck 11 months, 1 week ago

Over 1/2 the total value of all property in DoCo is tax exempt so it's time to start looking for other revenue sources. Since most non-profits don't pay property tax, how about a "public safety fee" or some such? Although there are over 800 non-profits, most don't own property or create a burden on the city. However, Phoebe, churches, public housing et al do receive services for which payment is not made so let's find a way to get them to "pony up".

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WeAreThey 11 months, 1 week ago

Way to go, Mr. Taylor!! They are called 'in lieu' fees and they should be charged to all tax-exempt entities owning property in the entire county - including those non-profits occupying government-owned facilities. These fees should be based on the market value of the property. They should be charged annually and subject to the same penalties for non-payment as unpaid property taxes. All property tax-exempt entities in this city expect, and receive, fire protection, law enforcement protection, street lights, road maintenance, utility maintenance, additional utility infrastructure built to accommodate their new construction and many more services. The 8,000 of us who support the cost of these services through payment of property taxes cannot carry the load any longer.

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MRKIA 11 months, 1 week ago

MR. TAYLOR IS DOING A FINE JOB OF KEEPING THE CITY'S FINANCES UNDER CONTROL. A LOT OF GOOD IDEAS COMING FROM HIS DEPARTMENT. GOOD JOB MR. TAYLOR.

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FryarTuk 11 months, 1 week ago

Taylor said 59 percent of the city's revenue comes from three sources: property taxes ($15.2 million or 27 percent), sales taxes ($8.99 million, 16 percent) and Water, Gas & Light Commission transfer ($8.74 million, 16 percent).

Where does the other 41% come from?

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RedEric 11 months, 1 week ago

Taylor probably said, but look who reported.

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chinaberry25 11 months, 1 week ago

I agree, non-profits should not be exempt for paying for fire and police protection. Phoebe has the fire dept. there many times every year. Most are false alarms. If they do not pay annually then they should pay for each time it is used. Schools too. Especially police calls.

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RedEric 11 months, 1 week ago

A fee for non-profits is definitely the way to go. Thank you for that. In a community where scamming a willing government is an accepted way of life this will give relief to property and income tax paying citizens. Also, no matter what the main stream media says, the economy is not doing well. It is good to hear responsible people (Mr. Taylor) telling the truth, thank you.

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Sister_Ruby_Two 11 months, 1 week ago

Got the letter yesterday. My property tax is going up again.

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