Hinesville City Council approved its fiscal year 2014 budget Thursday afternoon.
Chief financial officer Kim Ryon said the total expected revenues and expenditures budgeted for next year total $35,430,984, about $500,000 less than this year’s spending plan. The city’s fiscal year begins Nov. 1.
Before the council voted, Ryon presented an amendment to budgeted items discussed at a September budget workshop. City Manager Billy Edwards also asked the council to add a change to elected officials’ retirement plans.
He reminded council members they had asked him about increasing elected officials’ retirement benefits and how much extra it would cost. They were given a choice between increasing their monthly contribution from $21 a month to $33 or $40. The council chose to go with the $40 increase.
Ryon told the Courier the coming budget does not give a direct cost of living increase to employees, but does allow for “merit potential” raises.
She said the decrease spending from this year includes about $200,000 less in the general fund and more than $300,000 less in grants.
Councilman Jason Floyd said he had worried earlier that sales tax revenue was going to be lower than originally projected this year. He said he was pleased to see the numbers had improved.
“We’re not caught up yet,” Ryon said. “We’re still low in our sales tax projections, but I’m still waiting for results from September and October. I know I’m being optimistic, but I think we’re going to end up close to our projections.”
Ryon said she suspects sales taxes may be up in October because Fort Stewart’s commissary was closed for nearly a week at the beginning of the federal government shutdown. She said a lot of military families had to shop for groceries in Hinesville during that week.
Other business conducted during this week’s meeting included approval for the site plans for the proposed Zaxby’s Restaurant.
Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission zoning specialist Gabrielle Hartage said the only special condition yet to be met by the developer for the new Zaxby’s is approval by Georgia Department of Transportation of the proposed intersection and other traffic-related improvements.
The council also renewed an alcohol license for One Stop Package and a one-day special permit for HDDA to sell beer and wine during the Salute to Veterans at Bryant Commons on Nov. 16.
There was one dissenting vote for continuing consultant services with Lei Lilly Yang, who has assisted the city develop relations with China.
“I struggled about whether to support continuing this agreement,” Floyd said. “It was explained to me (however) there might be some fruit from this relationship in the near term.”
Councilman Keith Jenkins cast the only vote against the service renewal, but he did not say why.
The council also heard P.C. Simonton engineer Marcus Sack regarding improvements planned for Bryant Commons.
Sack said plans for the park include an entrance from Highway 84 aligned with Ryon Avenue, construction of a loop road, parking areas and walking trails. He said a planned Veterans Memorial Walk is a separate project to be funded by private donations.