• 68°

West Point City Council discusses fiscal year 2021 budget

The West Point City Council convened for a work session and public hearing on the proposed 2021 budget via teleconference on Thursday.

Mayor Steve Trammel called the first of two scheduled public meetings to start, however, there was no one there for public comment, so the public hearing portion was quickly closed.

There will be another public hearing on the 2021 proposed budget on Tuesday, Nov 24 at 5:30 p.m.

Trammel read the agenda, which consisted of an appointment to the public works director position, the sale of an alley between E 7th between 301, 307 and 311 and discussion on the proposed budget. Councilman Joe Downs made a motion to approve the agenda, which was seconded by Councilwoman Sandra Thornton.

The proposed budget contains an overall operating budget decrease of 3 percent as compared to the 2020 budget.

The 2020 budget was $6,1115,264 and the 2021 budget is recommended at $5,942,550. City Manager Ed Moon cited several factors for the reduced budget.

“The factors in the reduced budget are that there is no EMS training program. We are looking to retire the debt on the ladder truck which saves us about $77,000 annually,” Moon said in the Oct 27 work session.

Moon also said that some revenue reductions, such as franchise fees and the reallocation of some administrative salaries to share the cost with utilities, were due to COVID-19.

Public safety is also at the forefront of the proposed budget as 54 percent of the general fund is going to public safety.

Moon also pointed out that SPLOST projections remain strong and unchanged from 2020.

Sanitation expenses for 2021 are $526,250 and revenue, $395,000 resulting in a $131,250 in-fund transfer from utilities. As a result, there is a recommended garbage rate increase.

“The current residential base rate is $17.54. The recommended increase is 3 percent based on the CPI for garbage collection, which is 53 cents. So, the new rate is recommended at $18.07 per month,” Moon said.

Moon also recommended a commercial rate increase from the current $26.34 rate to $30.90. The current roadside trash collection rate would also increase from $4.32 to $5.50 per month. These increases would generate $33,600 in trash collection revenue.

“A residential customer with one garbage can would see an increase of $1.71 per month,” Moon said.

The proposed water and sewer budget could also bring a rate increase of 2 percent under the proposed budget.

“The recommended rate increase will generate $70,000 in annual revenue for the city for a typical homeowner with a $60 water and sewer bill. The increase will be approximately $1.20 per month,” Moon said.

Moon also pointed out that there has not been a rate adjustment in the past five budget cycles.

The council also discussed the sale of the alleyway between 301 E 7th, 307 E 7th and 311 E 7th St. Planning & Community Development Director Dennis Dutton said the alley is not necessary and recommends the city accept the sale of the property.

In other business, the council discussed appointing Roderick Palmer to the position of Public Works Director. Palmer has served as the interim director since August.

Some announcements were made at the conclusion of the meeting, including Councilman Henry Hutchinson announcing that the 11 and 12-year-old football team he coaches will compete in the Textile Bowl that will be held at Callaway Stadium on Monday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Hutchinson said he hopes to bring the championship back to West Point.

Councilwoman Sandra Thornton also announced that city cleanup will be held Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and they are asking for volunteers to come out to Virginia Cook.

On Nov 18, Thornton and Trammel will be collecting turkeys from the Chick-Fil-A on Lafayette Parkway in LaGrange to distribute to the West Point Active Life Center. Thornton thanked the Salvation Army for including West Point.

Also, Tramell said the annual Thanksgiving dinner will be at the corner MLK and Tenth St on Thanksgiving morning at 11 a.m.

“This year we set up donation buckets at the local restaurants and if anybody would like to donate anything to help pay for these meals, we’re going to do 250 meals this year,” Tramell said.

The council will meet again on Nov 9 for their regular business meeting and again on Nov 24 for another public hearing on the proposed budget.