“It’s been rather painful and excruciating for us,” he said.
He complimented Director of Administrative Services Markus Schwab and his staff for their hard work.
He said the budget was devised with the nine priorities the commissioners had focused on at their workshop earlier this year. These priorities include the land bank, revitalizing the old Thomaston Mills area, revising the zoning ordinance, conducting the studies associated with moving the airport, funding code enforcement against substandard housing and improving community safety.
The city’s overall revenue exceeds its budget by $609,813, but general-fund expenditures exceed general-fund revenue by $6,348,449. The total budget has been enlarged by $4,437,542, although much of it is from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues and various grants.
The city has dealt with the decline in revenue by cutting 21 positions, 20 full-time and one part-time. All but three of these positions are vacant. The filled positions being eliminated belong to Assistant to the City Manager Virginia Martin, Assistant Police Chief John Jett and Griffin Fire-Rescue Capt. Darrell Spradley, who serves as training officer.
“This casts no shadow on the work being done by people in those positions,” Smith said.
He said other personnel can take up the slack.
Other measures taken to cut costs in personnel were the denial of salary increases for the year and the elimination of the city’s matching of up to 3 percent of employees’ 401(a) contributions. Eliminating the match was not the city’s original plan but increased participation in the city’s pension plan cost the city $350,000. The move should save the city $534,690.
Smith said the staff discussed the possibility of furloughing employees but this would not be practical due to the shift system and the requirement for a minimum number of staff. The possibility of furloughs remains if the recession continues.
The budget does include three new positions. Two of the positions are for plant operators at the Still Branch Reservoir and should be filled by Aug. 1. The other position is a budget analyst and should be filled by Oct. 1. Smith said the position is needed to deal with the additional funding from grants and to help ensure the budget is balanced.