2004 Budget brings good and bad news - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

2004 Budget brings good and bad news

May 6, 2003

Albany - A tightened 2004 budget may save Albany homeowners from a property tax increase. City commissioners heard the proposed 2004 budget at Tuesday's meeting. The budget calls for departments to make big cuts to save city employees from losing their jobs and to save your money from taxes.

Many Albany employees are opening their supply closets to find depleted shelves. All city departments are tightening their belts by cutting back on office supplies, vehicle and cell phone usage. "We didn't have to cut any jobs this year," said City Manager Janice Allan Jackson. "Over the last few years, we cut 40 jobs. However, we think we can balance the budget without jobs being lost in 2004."

Jackson said harsh economic times caused the city to bring in less than this year than in 2001. And, that means some hard decisions must be made to save property taxes from increasing without taking away services. "The people of Albany are accustomed to a certain level of service, and we want to keep them satisfied."

Cut from the 2004 budget - grants for community groups such as the Albany Symphony and the Albany Museum of Art. "We gave these community agencies small grant of about $3,000 to $6,000. We just can't afford that anymore."

Included in the 2004 budget - a 2% cost of living raise for all city employees. No jobs will be cut, but none will be added either.

"We're cutting back across the board not just in any single department," said Public Works Director Phil Roberson. "That's how it is across America."

Jackson projects the budget cuts will continue until America's economy improves. Albany commissioners must approve the annual budget by the end of June.

Posted 4:00PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com