City begins budget process
Georgetown City Council got its first look at the proposed 2013-14 budget this week but still has quite a few decisions to make before the spending plan can be approved.
Currently, the budget for the upcoming fiscal year is projected to be $30.9 million, which is 2.6 percent less than the 2012-13 budget, according to City Administrator Chris Carter.
The plan as presented includes a three percent pay increase for city employees, which is a total expenditure of $186,605.
Carter said the amount the city has to pay for employee medical insurance is increasing by 7.5 percent. Council has to decide if that increase will be picked up in whole, or in part, by the city or if employees will be asked to cover the costs.
If the city splits the increase with employees 50-50, it would cost the city $104,143. If employees pay none of the increase, it will cost the city $208,285.
As is the case at many council meetings, there was a dispute between Mayor Jack Scoville and Councilman Rudolph Bradley on how Tuesday’s workshop should have been conducted.
Bradley wanted council to be able to ask questions as Carter was making the presentation. Scoville wanted council to save all of their questions until after the presentation was made.
“You did not let me make my point,” Bradley said after being interrupted by Scoville.
“Let’s just get through it then come back and ask questions,” Scoville responded.
“Your ruling is incorrect,” said Bradley. “I want the record to reflect that.”
“Then let the record reflect that,” Scoville fired back.
Bradley said in the past council has always asked questions as the presentation was being made.
Council will also have to decide whether to fill new positions being recommended by Carter.
One of the positions already being debated is a new lieutenant/watch commander for the Georgetown Police Department at a cost of $46,000.
Council member Clarence Smalls questioned the need for the new hire.
Police Chief Paul Gardner said after meeting with Carter, it was decided that position is currently not in the proposed budget. However, he said he “feels strongly” the position is needed and plans to “make a better case” on why it is needed at an upcoming meeting.
Also, some council members expressed concerns about the city paying for resource officers in the schools within the city.
Gardner is requesting $68,000 so officers can be assigned to the campuses of Maryville Elementary and the Howard Adult Center.
When asked by Paige Sawyer about who pays for the officers at Georgetown Middle and Georgetown High Schools, Gardner said the cost is split 50-50 with the school district.
Sawyer said he wants the district to pay 100 percent of the school resource officer costs.
That’s because the district pays the costs for all the other schools in the county.
“And city residents are county residents also,” Sawyer said.
Gardner said he agrees with Sawyer.
“I agree it needs to be driven by the district,” he said.
The proposed budget also contains an expenditure of $75,000 to hire a director of community and housing development.
The duties of the job, which is expected to be advertised this summer, include supervising department employees, develop relationships with community partners available to provide services to residents, work with homeowners to maintain vacant housing to City code requirements, work with communities to encourage diverse neighborhoods and receive and respond to public inquiries, requests for assistance and complaints regarding division projects and activities.
The city, as previously reported, has already split the duties of Cindi Kinder who has been the director of the Kaminski House Museum for years. She is now also the city’s new Historic Preservation Officer.
Because her time is now divided, it is being recommended the city hire two new part-time clerks to help with the museum and gift shop.
It is also being recommended that the hours worked by the director of Keep Georgetown Beautiful be increased from 15 hours per week to 30.
Councilwoman Jeanette Ard questioned the need for the increase since the city recently hired Jonathan Heald to head the new Public Service Department and Tee Miller is about to come on board as the new leader of Planning and Economic Development.
“We have all these departments coming together. Do we need to keep a KGB coordinator?,” Ard asked, adding she feels the KGB work could be divided between Heald and Miller.
Council will continue the budget talks at another workshop which will take place at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
By Scott Harper
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