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Cut budget items back in

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany city commissioners want to reinstate some proposed cuts into the city's budget. The $100 Million plus city budget for the next fiscal year is still a work in progress.

 Department heads were ordered to make deep cuts in their budgets, but now commissioners say they don't like all those cuts.

As commissioners finished listening to how department heads planned to cut their budgets, those commissioners decided to add some of that money back in, like for Carver Pool. Recreation Director Suzanne Davis says operating the pool for just 13 weeks will cost close to $100,000, for just 20 kids a day. She had planned to shut it down, but the commission decided against it.

"We had some of the commissioners from that district who received a lot of calls about cutting back, closing the pool, so they saw fit that they wanted to keep the pool open, to the tune of about $90,000," said Mayor Willie Adams. 

With only about 20 kids attending each day, that breaks down to about $75/day/child, even though the Boys and Girls club had agreed to allow all of those children to swim for free.

Adams said, "You have to remember that these commissioners come from that area and they have to please their constituents."

Another area commissioners didn't want cut: demolition of blighted properties. That budget had been slashed by about $100,000. Today, the board said they wanted it back in. Commissioner Jon Howard says stopping the process now, would be like moving in reverse.

He said, "It will be a step in the wrong direction because $100,000 can certainly demolish anywhere from 15-20 some of these structures that need to come down and taking a step backward would not be conducive and would not be productive for the city to do at this time."

The commission will spend the next month closely reviewing the proposed budget to see if money can be shifted from other departments to cover those programs, or if the city will need to dip into its $9 Million in cash reserves to cover those expenses.

On Tuesday, the city manager asked the commission to establish a finance committee for the next budget cycle so those commissioners can offer recommendations to the board regarding the budget.  Instead, they voted to meet as a full committee to review budgets department by department.

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