The City of Thomasville will hold a public hearing on Monday, December 2, at 5:30 p.m. to receive public comments on the City’s proposed budget for 2020. The budget is scheduled to be presented to City Council on Monday, December 9.
The proposed budget is $123.8 million and, for the eighth straight year, includes no funding from property taxes. In addition, the 2020 proposed budget includes no proposed utility rate increases for City of Thomasville Utilities customers.
“In lieu of property taxes, margins above the cost of providing services are transferred from the city’s utility funds to the general fund in order to fund governmental services that are traditionally funded in other communities by levying a property tax,” said City Manager Alan Carsonr. “For FY 2020, the amount of those transfers will be approximately $10,510,000, which is a decrease of $205,000 or just under 2 percent from 2019.”
Thomasville is one of only a few cities in the state that do not depend upon property taxes in order to fund general government operations.
“Instead, we are able to continue providing excellent services to our customers without an additional tax burden,” Carson said. "We can do this through efficient operation and management of our competitively-priced utility services.”
The proposed budget includes significant funding for infrastructure improvement to utility services, including water and wastewater.
“While we’ve worked hard to reflect reductions in many areas of the 2020 proposed budget, infrastructure improvements are an area that we must budget for annually so that our system is not compromised,” Carson said. “Investing in capital improvements now will ensure that our utility systems will be capable of serving our community for many years to come.”
The bulk of capital improvements budgeted for 2020 include improvements to water and wastewater infrastructure. In addition, improvements mandated by the Environmental Protection Division are budgeted for the landfill, and runway improvements required by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation are planned for the municipal airport.
In total, nearly $25.3 million is budgeted for capital improvements in 2020, an increase of nearly 13 percent.
Carson added that the 2020 budget will include the implementation of a compensation study that is designed to allow the City of Thomasville to attract and maintain qualified staff in entry-level positions.
“It is important that we compensate our staff members fairly based on the work they perform,” he said. “Our Human Resources Department has completed a market-based salary study that recommends adjustments in key areas of our operations. Approval of the 2020 budget will allow us to implement these recommendations for our staff.”
Across the board, Carson said that his directive to department heads was to hold budgets flat for 2020. He also said that requests for additional staff were considered very carefully before being recommended to council as part of the 2020 proposed budget.
“In total, we received requests for 15 additional FTEs, or full-time equivalent staff members,” he said. “We carefully reviewed each request with staff and have recommend a net of six additional FTEs in the proposed budget. In most cases, the additional staff are needed to address succession planning for the organization.”
Carson noted that staff is re-evaluating policies related to vehicle purchase and operation, which should bring additional savings next year.
“We will carefully evaluate all vehicle purchases to ensure that our recommendations are as cost-effective as possible,” he said. “We are also reviewing our take-home vehicle policy to be sure we are being good stewards of the assets we currently manage.”
Upcoming projects that will be funded with the 2018 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) are also included in the 2020 proposed budget. Expenditures are planned for areas including street resurfacing, stormwater maintenance improvements, sidewalk improvements, and additions to the Community Trail.
“In addition, we are recommending nearly $800,000 in recreational improvements, including $500,000 toward completing the Weston Park improvement plan,” Carson said. “SPLOST projects are completed as funding is received, but it is important that we allocate how these funds will be spent so that our citizens can be assured that those projects that are most important to our community will be completed.”
The proposed budget was presented to the Thomasville City Council during a review session earlier this week. The Thomasville City Council will consider a motion to approve the proposed 2020 budget at its regular meeting on Monday, December 9. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in council chambers.