Saturday, May 30, 2009
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CONYERS - The city of Conyers is bracing for a tight budget year, but one without any tax increase or employee layoffs or furloughs.The Conyers City Council held the first reading of the proposed 2009-10 budget during its public meeting Wednesday.The proposed budget, which encompasses the fiscal year July 1 to June 30, 2010, is $13,319,343. Isabel Rogers, director of administration with Conyers, presented the budget to the City Council and said she did not account for the normal percentage increase in revenue this year and, in fact, trimmed back on projections. Rogers said she presented a more conservative budget than normal in light of questions about possible decreases in local property tax assessments. Furthermore, she opted to cut back due to the likelihood that the state will no longer reimburse local governments for the Homeowners Tax Relief Grant, or HTRG.The city's 2008-09 budget was approved at $13,644,772, with $5.6 million projected in revenue from ad valorem taxes. At the midterm adjustment, which was approved in March, ad valorem revenue came in at $5.7 million.However, this year, the city is planning for only $5.5 million in ad valorem tax revenue.Most areas of the projected budget have been similarly scaled back, with the exception of anticipated revenue from building permits.The 2008-09 budget accounted for $300,000 in building permits, but by the midterm adjustment, that number was reduced by half. Once again, the 2009-10 budget anticipates only $150,000 in building permits."These numbers are what we hit this past year or are even lower," Rogers said.In an effort to keep the expenditures in line with anticipated revenue, the budget does not account for cost of living increases for employees and includes a 2 percent increase in health insurance premiums for city workers. A few expenditures for tractors for public works at the Georgia International Horse Park are included, but no other capital costs, Rogers said.One area that has yet to be settled amongst the five council members is the city's contribution to the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts. The preliminary budget shows the city contributing $50,000 to the Arts Council, as it had last year. Normally, though, the city contributes $25,000 to the Arts Council, but the city allocated an additional $25,000 in 2008-09 to be used toward the Arts Council's opening of the Olde Town Art Gallery. "We said last year we would re-evaluate this, but we're doing exactly what I said at the time we would do: It's become a line-item that we just approve," Councilman Marty Jones said.Jones asked to discuss that item further during the finance committee's meeting prior to the second reading of the budget.All in all, the council seemed pleased with the budget, particularly in light of other local governments facing significant cuts, employee layoffs and, in some cases, millage rate increases.A date has not been set for the second reading, but the City Council must approve the 2009-10 budget by June 30.Aimee Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.