Columbus FY14 city budget will use 6 days worth of reserve funds - WRBL

Columbus FY14 city budget will use 6 days worth of reserve funds

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Columbus City Council Columbus City Council
COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Columbus City Council will vote on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget Tuesday.

The proposed budget is just over $263 million, which includes about $2.4 million that council added back using money from the city's saving account.

The move means the Columbus Department of Fire and EMS, the police and sheriff's office are all exempt from the required 1.5 percent department reductions. Council used the six days-worth of reserve money to, in part, fund first responder positions in jeopardy of being lost and overtime for the police department.

But Mayor Teresa Tomlinson warns the move to continually use savings could be dangerous in the long run. "At some point we have to say are we the most efficient we can possibly be."

Reserve money is used to keep the city running if there was a county-wide emergency and revenue stopped coming in. The mayor said in the last three years council has taken $4.5 million of savings and added it back to the budget. That equals about 10.5 reserve days.

Next year's proposed budget drops the city's reserve from the mayor's proposed 72 days down to 66. Sixty days is the minimum.

"You keep taking money out of your reserve that's when you start having such strict financial circumstances that you are looking at issues the school board's been dealing with... furlough days and lay-offs and reduction of positions. We don't want to get there," Tomlinson said.

She said departments can get used to spending money the same way but that thinking must stop. "You're asking them under the economic circumstances if there's any way they can adjust, find efficiencies in places."

In July, the mayor said the public safety departments will be reassessed to see if they can become more efficient.

Twenty-seven departments will absorb the 1.5 percent reduction for next year while 12 will have some money restored.

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