Toms wants raise for WR city workers | News
Mayor Randy Toms says Warner Robins taxpayers will not see a tax increase this year if council votes to approve his proposed 2015 budget.
He says the budget includes a 3% raise for all city employees. Toms said the city employs about 550 people.
Toms says taxpayers should support the raise to keep Warner Robins competitive with other cities.
He said, "If we want to keep the employees we have, we have to at least try to keep up with the cost of living. That's really all were doing here, is a three percent cost-of-living increase. So, it's important for them to realize that it's worth that 3 percent to give our employees the raise they need, to try to keep the employees we have, doing the services they are providing so well."
Toms' budget totals about $76.6 million, with a little more than $37 million in the general fund.
It leaves four months of operating costs, or about $14.5 million, in the city's savings account, according to Chief Financial Officer Bill Harte.
Toms described the financial health of the city as "really good." He said, "Most cities don't enjoy that luxury of having reserve funds. We have several months in reserve which is a good financial deal for Warner Robins. I credit previous mayors and Council for putting us in that situation. We should be grateful for that."
Harte says to balance the budget, Toms plans to use about a half-million from the city's unassigned fund balance.
Harte said he doesn't normally recommend that practice, but expects growth in the tax digest this year to make up for the withdrawal.
Officials said the penny sales tax, or SPLOST, approved in 2012, is bringing in about 14 percent less than expected, indicating that retail spending is off.
Toms says that will impact building projects in the city and "we're just having to tighten the strings a little bit."
The SPLOST projects, such as a new fire station, a sports complex and welcome center, will be built as promised but if collections don't pick up, projects could be scaled back to reduce costs.
That sales tax collection is, by law, not included in the 2015 operating budget.
Toms said his team wants to make sure that people "keep getting the services they're accustomed to, which are exceptional services from great city employees, and our first concern is that we take care of city employees."
Council is set to vote on the budget June 16, after a public hearing.