By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
City budget has officials worried
Placeholder Image
The city of Hinesville’s budget for fiscal year 2011 is a work in progress.
There is currently a difference of $917,854 between the city’s recommended general fund amounts of $19,256,351 for revenue and $20,174,205 for expenditures.  According to the city’s website, Hinesville’s general fund budget for fiscal year 2010 was $19,030,711, a $294,616 decrease from the 2009 general fund budget of $19,325,327.
The council presented its draft budget for FY 2011 Thursday during a public hearing.
“This council and the mayor, we’re quite concerned with the position we’re in now,” said Hinesville Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier who presided over the hearing. Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas was on vacation this past week.
 Frasier said the city is mandated by state and federal regulations to provide residents general services, and some cuts to the draft budget have already been made.
Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards told residents the city will present a balanced FY 2011 budget next week for council members to vote on and hopefully adopt during the council’s regular Nov. 4 meeting. Once a budget is adopted, council members will determine whether or not they will vote to raise the millage rate. Action on the millage would be taken in a separate meeting, Edwards explained. The city would have to first advertise and hold three public hearings should the council decide to raise the millage.
Several residents approached the council with their concerns, and asked questions about some of the city’s expenditures.
City employee Terry Smith asked if city workers could expect furlough days or cuts to employee benefits. Edwards replied, “Nothing is off the table.” The city manager said they (officials) would not know how workers would be affected until the budget is balanced.
Hinesville resident Larry Boggs commented he did not think city officials should meet at St. Simons for the annual planning workshop, suggesting the city could save money by meeting in the local area. He also said he disapproved of the city’s recent participation in the regional delegation’s trip to China. Boggs said the U.S. has lost jobs by outsourcing to countries like China.
“I think there’s some room to be trimmed,” he said.
Boggs also asked how many people were riding the new Liberty Transit bus system.
Edwards said ridership was at more than 1,000 passengers the first week, cautioning “we have just started up.” Riders were not charged the $1 fare the first week the bus system began operating. The revenue for the system’s second week was “$600 and some change,” Edwards said. “It’s greater than what we had anticipated,” he added.
Hinesville City Council Member Keith Jenkins (District 4) said he would be happy to speak to residents or city employees about their concerns and would listen to any ideas they have to balance the budget for FY 2011.
“This is a bad year for everybody,” Jenkins said. “We’re doing the best we can.”
City resident Jenny Cole said she and her husband learned to live lean after her husband lost his job and suggested the city do the same in these shaky financial times.
“You cut where you can,” Cole said. “You cut the things you like to do or want to do. It hurts sometimes. It’s just what we need to do.” She said only those services necessary to the community’s well being, such as fire and police protection, should not be cut.
Sign up for our e-newsletters