Albany pulls millions from reserves to balance budgets - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany pulls millions from reserves to balance budgets

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May 13, 2008

Albany -- Albany city commissioners continue to work out details for next year's budget. They think they'll need to take 5.8 million dollars from reserves to balance not only 2009's budget, but this year's as well.

"We have to be real careful with our reserves. We have a real hefty fund balance, but we don't want to dwindle it away," said Albany City Manager, Alfred Lott. 

Commissioners rolled back the milage rate for this year to offset potential property tax increases after reappraisals. That cost the city about 1.6 million in property taxes. The city is paying an extra 1.4 million for health insurance increases that they didn't want to pass on to city employees.

Another unexpected expense, $490,000 for a workforce audit and retroactive payments to some city workers who were underpaid. The rest of the extra expenses come from funding to the Riverquarium and demolition costs in downtown revitalization.

Commissioners don't want to increase taxes to make up the difference. "If we could work it out to where we do not have to increase the milage rate and keep things the way that they are; I think most commissioners around the table are going to do that," said Ward III City Commissioner, Morris Gurr.

City leaders plan to pull 3.6 million dollars from reserves to balance the 2009 budget. They already expect a $408,000 shortfall in property taxes, but they say that's better than a milage rate increase.

"I do not want to do anything that would increase the burden on our taxpayers especially if we have money that we put away for this purpose," said Ward II City Commissioner, Dorothy Hubbard.

Even after taking millions out of reserves, the city is still in good shape. "We still will have a 25 percent reserve and that's good. A lot of city's aren't able to do that," said Gurr.

And commissioners promise to be frugal in the upcoming fiscal year so they can continue to have a healthy reserve account.

Albany city commissioners will be have a public hearing on the 2009 budget May 27th. They will adopt the final budget at the end of June.

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