Commission considers spending while facing budget shortfall

Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic
Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic

Augusta financial officials said it’s a concern not a catastrophe but the city’s budget year is off to a rocky start.

“We’ve got some of them down there it’s not a big deal then one day you’re going to go to that well and it’s going to be dry,” said Commissioner Grady Smith.

Finance officials showing commissioners that electrical franchise fee payments are one point one million dollars less than expected, that money is expected to keep the budget in balance.

“It’s definitely a concern it  was two months’ worth of reporting we’ll get another report in two months come back and see that I think that’s where we’ll have to be very conservative on how we spend money moving forward,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom, Chairman of the Finance Committee.

With Gold Cross not accepting this year’s ambulance subsidy there’s 388 thousand dollars available to be spent.

Many commissioners support using some of that to increase the staff at Animal Services.

“I think it’s a good idea, because that department is suffering with the lack of enough employees to take on the task they are taking,” says Commissioner Dennis Williams.

City Administrator Jackson also thinks it’s a good idea to use the ambulance money for Animal Services.

Also for new employees at Code Enforcement, and the Marshal’s Office

But also using $113 thousand dollars of it to adjust pay for some employees based on the ongoing salary study.

“I can’t support it right now again it’s the first quarter and we’re talking about spending money we’re going to have some very tough discussions in the future,” said Commissioner Frantom.

“I would wait until we got back on a flat playing field and then make decisions but I would make sure the treasury is where it should be,” said Commissioner Smith.

It’s not only the franchise fee that’s down sales tax collections are also running 11 percent behind last year.

The Administrators office decline to speak on the franchise fee impact or the plans to spend the Ambulance subsidy, the commission is scheduled to take up whether to support the proposal at its meeting next week.

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