Protestors show up to meeting as Albany commissioners disagree, pass $290 million budget
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The Albany City Commission voted to pass the 2022 fiscal year budget Tuesday night, but two commissioners voted no because they didn’t want pandemic recovery money being spent on sewer infrastructure.
The exact number of this year’s budget is $293,103,766.
Commissioner Jon Howard and Demetrius Young were the two dissenters. They also voted to let members of a large crowd that formed in protest, speak at the meeting. The commission voted not to allow that.
Mayor Bo Dorough said the public had other opportunities to speak at public hearings.
The city is getting two payments of about $10 million from the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan to help communities recover from the pandemic, or in Albany’s case, update the sewer system.
“We understand that while we talk about ‘One Albany,’ there are these, are the things that if you really want ‘One Albany,’ you should be trying to fix,” said Commissioner Demetrius Young.
“It is not a matter of we’ve done nothing for 20 years and we have to do something now. We are required to make these improvements by 2025,” said Dorough.
City leaders said they could face thousands of dollars in fines from the EPA if they don’t get the sewer and stormwater systems separated.
Commissioner Chad Warbington offered a possible solution but noted that the commission was on a time strain to pass a balanced budget.
“A task force that kinda breaks out what does our community need,” suggested Warbington.
But Warbington was concerned it wouldn’t be possible in time.
“We’ll be breaking the law if we don’t have this passed in a week,” said Warbington.
Protesters are now calling for the resignation of some Albany city commissioners after the vote.
Protesters weren’t happy that city commissioners wanted to use COVID-19 rescue funds to help rebuild the city’s infrastructure and sewer system. Instead, they wanted it to go to needy communities for things like community gardens.
“You know what this money is for and if you do not spend it accordingly, there will be consequences,” said a man who spoke out during the meeting.
Others chanted for the resignations of Warbington, BJ Fletcher and Bob Langstaff after they voted to approve the budget and not change how the recovery funds were spent.
“Infrastructure is the entire community,” said Fletcher.
“It should go for some of the depressed and insecure areas,” argued Howard.
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