Augusta Comes Up Millions Short in 2012 Budget

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For Augusta Commissioners, the budget went bust, coming up $3 million in 2012.

“Revenues were down a little bit, our expenditures were still down we did a pretty good job with that we estimated using approximately $34 million out of fund balance and we were pretty close to that in our estimates,” says City Administrator Fred Russell.

“I'm never happy when you see something like that, but these are difficult economic times for everybody,” says Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

But in 2011, the city ended the year with a $1.6 million surplus, allowing city leaders to take $500,000s and put that money to work tearing down blighted building. Now though, instead of a surplus, the city needs to raid millions from its reserves.

“That's what that fund balance is for, it's appropriate to talk about rainy day funds, at the moment, given the nature of our weather and we used it for that,” says Russell.

Comissioner Wayne Guilfoyle chairs the Finance Committee and says he understands how the city gets upside down with the budget.

“It's a lot easier spending money then saving money, even for  John Does to save the money is harder but it's worth it and that's where we all need to get on the same sheet of music,” says Guilfoyle.

“Is it a concern is it something you like no but do I feel confident in the future of the city and our city finances absolutely,” says Mayor Copenhaver.

City leaders point out some unexpected expenses for adding to the shortfall;, one is the settlement of a lawsuit with the families of two victims who died in a mobile home fire in 2006.

The shortfall is part of the recently completed 2012 audit, city finance officers filled Commissioners in on the results at Tuesday's meeting.

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