Rutledge council projects $432,000 budget
By Patrick Yost
The City of Rutledge is projecting a zero fund balance for its fiscal year 2008 – 2009 general fund budget after showing a more than $110,000 fund balance from its 2007 – 2008 fiscal year budget.
The council Monday held its first public hearing regarding it’s proposed budget. It set it’s millage rate at .3779 in September.
The city projects it will generate $81,000 from general property tax in ’08 – ’09. It also projects collections of $155,000 in general sales and use tax, $23,000 in franchise tax, $58,000 in garbage collections, $23,000 in alcohol beverage tax and $39,000 in local premium tax.
In total, the city projects a revenue stream of $432,000 for it’s this fiscal year compared to projected expenses of the same amount.
Council members said on Monday that the fund balance was, in part, because of unfinished projects from 2008 that the city intends to complete including street improvements, sidewalk repairs and building maintenance.
In 2007 – 2008 the city budgeted $22,000 for road maintenance but spent $2,000.
The council also approved a $30,000 line item that will pay to improve conditions at its city softball field. Mayor Spencer Knight said the city hoped to construct a fence around the field and improve maintenance at the site.
Knight said the earmark is part of a larger project to improve recreational facilities within the city that may include future walking trails and tennis courts.
“We’re trying to get a plan so in the future we’ll know where we’re going,” he said.
The budget also includes a $93,000 interfund transfer from the city’s general fund budget to the city’s water and sewage budget.
That transfer tracks previous trends of financial support from the city’s general fund to the water fund.
Knight said the city’s water system had historically operated on a deficit. Projected revenues for the city’s water system budget are $360,000, including the interfund transfer.
Water fees are expected to generate $142,000 and sewage fees are projected to generate $71,000. Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is expected to bring $26,000 to the water system. Expenses for the system are projected at $326,000 for a water system fund balance of $35,000.
City council member Tom Strott rejected suggestions to raise water rates, stating that based on the city’s strong financial shape the council should defer water rate increases and consider a millage rate roll back next year.
“There’s no reason to ask the citizens of Rutledge to pay more taxes to subsidize our water fund,” he said.
Knight said the city had recently completed repairs to several sewage lines but said water system repairs loomed.
“I feel comfortable with the sewage… but we’re going to have to spend money on our water system.”
The city is awaiting an expected water rate increase from the City of Madison in October and was told that another increase would follow in January.
The city has also expended $45,000 from funds supplied by the Weyerhaeuser Company for on exploratory drilling for a new city well. Weyerhaeuser, Knight said, gave the city $100,000 to search for a new well. So far, he said, two attempts at finding a new water source have failed.
The mayor suggested that the city keep a fund balance in case more money is needed to find a suitable well.