Council approves budget with LPD pay increases

Published 9:23 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2023

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After a work session that was contentious at times, the LaGrange City Council approved the FY2024 budget on Tuesday evening.

The $37.5 million budget includes the planned police officer starting pay increase to $60,000 but will do so without the need for a utility rate increase, at least for this year. Mayor Willie Edmondson said the city was able to pay for the increase using ARPA funds. Current officers will receive $8,000 salary increases.

City Manager Meg Kelsey said LPD officers will see the pay increase on their first check after July 1.

The budget also includes increased funding for four agencies to stem the tide of deadly youth violence within the city. Communities in Schools, Saving Our Sons, Tribe Ujima and Greater Achievement Youth Empowerment Academy are slated to receive $25,000 each, double what was previously discussed by the council at last week’s meeting.

Funding for Bruce Griggs’ Saving Our Sons program, however, was reduced from initial budget discussions. During the council’s budget work session, the city had tentatively agreed to provide $8,180.29 to Griggs for a young men’s conference at Great Wolf Lodge and $75,000 for a youth summer camp, but those funds were reduced when council members began to receive complaints about the possibility of a utility rate increase.

During the work session and meeting on Tuesday, Councilman Nathan Gaskin said the council should keep its word and provide Saving Our Sons the funds that were promised. Councilman Leon Childs, who advocated that all four agencies get equal funding, said that he never gave his word to provide the funding.

After the council could not come to a consensus on the Saving Our Sons funding, Mayor Edmondson suggested putting $25,000 funding for each in the proposed budget and letting it come to a vote.

Ultimately, the budget was approved with a 4-1 vote with only Gaskin in opposition.

The FY2024 budget will require no rate increases to utilities, but several fee increases were approved in separate ordinances.

The council approved an ordinance to increase the utilities reconnect fees for nonpayment by $10. Nonpayment reconnects will increase from $30 to $40 for regular hours and $40 to $50 for overtime hours. The move-in fee of $30 will not change.

The fee for insufficient funds returned checks will also increase from $25 to $35, which Kelsey said reflects what the bank charges the city.

The fees for vehicle tire disposal at the landfill will also increase from $120 per ton to $155 per ton. Individual tire disposal will increase from $1.50 to $3 per tire and $3.75 to $4.75 for tires on rims for Troup County residents. Fees for nonresidents will increase from $3 to $5 per tire and $5 to $8 per tire on rims.

City curbside trash pickup will also increase by $3 per can monthly.