The Mayor of Columbus delivered her budget proposal in council chambers Friday morning and addressed the major deficit the city of Columbus faces heading into the next fiscal year.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson presented a plan addressing the deficit in the 2015 budget. The deficit consists of $4.5 million in healthcare costs and $6.5 million for operation costs.
"We were able to remedy that, balance the budget, eliminate the $11 million deficit, save about 120 - between 80 and a 120 jobs, and also maintain our city services level," said Tomlinson.
She noted that the city has grown in population and residents need to have services, but with the hiring freeze and attrition of city employees, cutting jobs was not an option.
"We're a city that's growing and we're demanding more services and yet we have fewer employees providing those services, so we're at bare bones," she said. "We could not have sent home a hundred people."
The recommended budget is $263 million, a 0.5 reduction from this year.
The plan consists of a reformed pension plan, a cost of living raise for employees and retirees, a raise in garbage fees, un-funding all vacant employee positions within city government and putting that money in the general fund, and setting the funded overtime budget for the Columbus Police Department and the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office.
"There may be a tweak here and there, but I think with the 60 days of debate, council's going to have the opportunity to have now, that they are going to see that there are very few alterations that can be made and maintain the stability of the city," she said.
City council has 60 days to deliberate before voting on the budget.
Mayor Tomlinson's proposal on budget adjustments for 2015 fiscal year:
Pension plan: Save $27- $28 million
Raise: .5% employee, .25% retiree
Garbage fee: $.86 increase (total $15)
Vacancies: $2.3 million impact
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