Posted: Thursday, December 13th 2012 at 11:34am
Cornelia continues tightening fiscal belt; taxes up half mill
By Rob Moore Editor
CORNELIA – Cornelia’s 2013 budget is smaller than the one for the current year, despite rising costs of operation and dwindling revenues.
"This is a result of once again tightening our belts to try and do more with less," said City Manager Donald Anderson.
The city’s general fund budget for 2013 is $4,561,178, down from $4,628,768 in 2012.
Even with the decrease in the overall budget, belt tightening does allow for a 2.5-percent cost of living increase for city employees.
"This will mark the first such increase in several years," Anderson said. "I believe that we have no choice but to find a way to grant them this pay increase. We have very good employees who have continued to show up for work each day without any sort of increased compensation, despite the fact that the cost of living, i.e. gas and groceries, has skyrocketed during this period."
The budget approved Wednesday does not call for any increases in water and sewer rates, but does reflect a half-mill tax increase as well as an increase in the city’s sanitation fees.
Anderson said Thursday morning the increase in taxes is about $44,000. The commission, on Oct. 30, voted to increase the millage rate from 8.0 to 8.5.
The city taxes at 40 percent of the value of a property so on a $100,000 home, the taxes could have increased from $320 to $340, though most property owners saw little or no increase in taxes because of the decline in property values, said City Clerk Janie Henderson.
While the general fund budget is down $67,590, the water and sewer utility budget is up by $117,073, from $6,377,178 to $6,494,251.
"The operation costs associated with providing water and sewer services to our citizens continues to increase," Anderson said. "Once again, thanks to grant and SPLOST funds, we will be able to continue the process of upgrading our infrastructure. This will be an ongoing process, and we will continue to seek outside funding in order to keep as much of this burden as possible off of our customers."
Anderson said "noteworthy programs and projects to improve Cornelia in 2013" will include:
·Water line replacement project in Ward 2 and Ward 3 for $820,000;
·Replacement of J Warren North Lift Station for $70,000, to be paid out of the sewer fund;
·Little Mud Creek Streambank Restoration Project for $260,000, to be funded primarily through grant funds, with the remainder from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax;
·Level Grove Road Sidewalk Project for $500,000, through a grant;
·A spray park for $150,000, to be paid with SPLOST proceeds; and
·Replacement of the roof on the Cornelia Community House, including the required architectural shingles to preserve the building’s historic nature and replacement of decking, for $40,000.
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