Hogansville City Council on Thursday approved its 2012-2013 budget with a unanimous vote.
The plan includes $2.3 million expenses in the city’s general fund, with a $259,000 transfer from Hogansville’s utility budget to balance the numbers.
Here are the highlights:
Hogansville’s 2012-2013 budget will include a $300,000 deal with Diverse Power for the electric provider to maintain the city’s electric lines.
Hogansville City Council approved the contract with Diverse on June 18, prior to the budget vote.
The city will still be in control of its electric system and still will bill and collect its own electric rates, said City Manager James Woods. The city keeps its two meter readers, and two electric workers will be offered jobs with Diverse Power.
As part of the Diverse contract, another $100,000 is being set aside that the city would be required to use in the case of storm damage or new construction. The city is required to pay for the repairs or new infrastructure.
Woods said it’s close to a “break even” deal for the city.
“I think it’s a good deal for the efficiencies it offers to our city that has a a single work crew,” he said.
Woods said Diverse will be able to make much-needed repairs to the city’s electric system at a much faster rate than the single Hogansville crew could have done. It also gives the city more manpower if there’s a power outage – a second crew can be sent to handle the outage while the first crew handles normal day-to-day tasks.
“We’re losing in efficiency,” with one crew, Woods said.
The deal takes effect July 1 and will end June 30, 2013, although it will automatically roll over each year unless one of the parties opts out.
Other highlights of the budget:
• No new property taxes: The city will keep the same property tax millage rate it has had for the last nine years – 7.95 mills. Reevaluations, however, have pushed the total amount of tax the city collects up about 4 percent, from $415,000 to $450,000. In lieu of rolling back the tax rate to account for the 4 percent, the city will have to hold three public hearings since the state considers the increased collections a tax hike.
Those hearings have yet to be scheduled, but will happen in the next three to four weeks.
• Utility rates to change, if they haven’t already: Residential customers also will see an electric rate increase, likely beginning in August, based on a new power cost adjustment. The residential base charge for utilities will go up from $8 to $12 and the rate also will increase 1 cent per kilowatt hour to 13 cents. Commercial rates already have gone up: small commercial rates are up to 14.6 cents per kWh, while large commercial rates actually dropped 13.6 cents per kWh. Extra large utility customers – Carters is one – have seen a rate increase of .081 cents per kWh.
Woods said the increases are necessary because he and auditors discovered in April the city was charging too low a rate to keep up with the financial requirements of its bond covenants. Council will have to pass an ordinance that outlines the new rates, so the earliest the residential change can take effect is August.
• New cars on the beat: The city also is looking at spending about $36,000 to lease six police cars, replacing some of the oldest in the fleet. Hogansville has spent about $50,000 on vehicle repair costs in the last year, and leasing the new cars would greatly decrease that expense. Two more cars will need to be replaced in the next two years.
• Other needed equipment: “We also have money set aside for expenses we know are coming,” said Woods. The city will replace a blower motor, one of three at the sewer plant, and a dead pump, also one of three, at the city’s sewage spray field. Woods said both parts are crucial to the plant’s operation. He also has money set aside for the engineering costs to renew a permit at the wastewater plant that expires within the next year.
• No more city building inspections: Included in the budget also is a plan to eliminate the city’s building inspection program and turn that responsibility over to Troup County. The change only would affect inspection of new construction and renovation, not code enforcement. Woods said there’s not enough business in the city’s building inspection department right now to keep it going, the change would not affect the number of city employees.
• Help for outside agencies: Council will give $5,000 to the new Troup County state court initiative, Mental Health Court, that will operate similarly to the drug court already in place. Another $5,000 has been set aside for “Move the Mountain,” the county’s anti-poverty initiative.
No one spoke for or against the spending plan at two hearings, one held Thursday night and another June 18.