VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The Valdosta City Council unanimously approved a budget increase of more than $8 million Thursday night.
It's the biggest increase the city has proposed in more than a decade.
"We feel it's a good budget, our taxes are lower than our peer cities than those we compete against, and we feel that we're meeting the needs of our community," said Larry Hanson, City manager.
Last year's budget, which ends at the end of this month, totaled $89 million in expenses, this year that is being increased by 9 percent, to $97 million.
The increases are for things such as such as capitol projects and a 1.2% raise for city employees.
"Morale has improved and retention has improved. We're not only doing a good job of recruiting, but a better job of keeping our existing employees. Their morale is better, because they feel they are being fairly compensated," said Hanson.
City leaders said this big increase is not coming with a hefty price to tax payers.
They said the budget is balanced without any major cuts to departments, or property tax increases.
"We're making sure our enterprise areas like water and sewer that use services from the general fund, reimburse the general fund. We're adjusting our fine schedule slightly. We haven't raise fines in over 13 years; we were well below communities in our area," said Hanson.
With the budget including a large amount set aside for capitol projects, city leaders said that citizens, within the next year, will start to notice some improvements being made in the community.
"During these lean projects, we're had to delay projects. Things like putting a roof on the police department," said Hanson.
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