Bigger budget for Valdosta - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Bigger budget for Valdosta

June 24, 2005

Valdosta - The Valdosta Police Department is short by eight officers, and with a starting salary of less than $30,000, its hard to recruit new employees. "We're competing with agencies that pay 30, 32, and 33 thousand dollars," said Captain Brian Childress.

But an increase in the city's budget will give them a new edge. "We're increasing out starting base for police officers and we think that's really going to help not only with recruitment, but also with retention," said City Manager Larry Hanson.

This year's budget is just short of 90 million dollars, and will give all city employees a merit and cost of living pay raise. It also includes several new job positions. "They'll be two added in the investigative bureau, one detective as well as a new position for a crime lab director," said Hanson.

There's also a new opening at for a firefighter, and an economic development director who'll help recruit new business to this area. "If we're successful at it, the position more than pays for itself because it brings in added revenue and helps us maintain our low tax base," said Hanson.

And the best part, all this comes at no added expense to the taxpayer. "There's no mileage increase and in this day and age with a growing city and the size of this budget, we're very proud of that," said Hanson.

But city residents will notice a slight rate in water rates. "The average customer should see an increase of about a dollar and a quarter a month," said Hanson.

The extra cost is necessary to meet the increase in fuel and other utility costs. "There's been significant increases in energy, electricity, electricity makes up 10 percent of our budget for utilities so we're forced to pass that along to the customer," said Hanson.

The new budget takes effect July 1st, and city leaders are already looking for candidates to fill the new job positions.

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