Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

June 20, 2014

Council passes FY 2015 budget

Approves bid for WWTP relocation

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta City Council approved two significant items Thursday night: the city's Fiscal Year 2015 budget and the design build project to relocate the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The city passed its balanced budget based on the amount of money listed rather than a set millage increase because officials are waiting on the tax digest to be complete. But in this budget, the general fund is presented as balanced with an anticipated increase in property taxes of $2.9 million; once the tax digest is set then the city will decide the millage rate.

“We adopted a budget that was an amount of money, about $83.3 million, so when the tax digest is complete and certified by the state then the city will set the millage, and that's typically in August, and so the millage rate will be set to fund the budget that was approved tonight,” City Manager Larry Hanson said. “We're expecting it to be no more than two mills.”

The two mill increase would bring the city's millage rate from 4.102 to 6.102.

Deputy City Manager of Administration Mark Barber said, “If it turns out to be the full two mill increase, to give you an idea of a property owner, the median property value in Valdosta is

approximately $124,000. What this will do is add $7.34 to that tax bill each month.”

Along with an increase in the millage rate, the budget included an increase in the utility rate based upon the water rate analysis and sufficiency study.

The city's FY 2015 budget will not add staff, or raise staff pay, officials state, but it does maintain all employee benefits at the same rate, including the Care Hear Medical Clinic, and the longevity award based on years employed with the city.

The city's FY15 general fund budget is expected to receive $33.37 million in revenues and spend $32.8 million in expenditures.

The vote was approved 6-0. Councilman Tim Carroll was not in attendance. This was the first millage rate increase by the City of Valdosta in 22 years.

• Designs for the relocation of the WWTP began after the 2009 flood. City Council approved $23.75 million bid Thursday night from the Parsons Corporation to move the WWTP from inside the 100-year floodplain to outside of the 500-year floodplain by a 6-0 vote.

The vote comes after a three-year delay from unsuccessful negotiations between FEMA and the city. This February, the one-step design build project was advertised. On April 29, five teams submitted proposals; a selection committee reviewed them. On June 11, the committee chose Parsons as having the most responsive and responsible proposal, according to the city.

This relocation project and the city's force main project were given an 18-month timeline. Once complete, these projects are expected to eliminate the city's sewer woes.

• On the same note, the city approved three emergency invoices for sewer repairs.

The city approved an invoice for work done by Radney Plumbing on Summerlin Street in the amount of $280,130, which was the second of three phases (paid out of SPLOST).

The city approved an invoice for work done by Radney Plumbing on West Hill Avenue, which was the third and final phase, in the amount of $556,915 (paid out of SPLOST).

City Council approved the previous two invoices with one motion. It also approved an invoice for work done by Radney Plumbing on Remer Lane in the amount of $62,335 (paid for by user fees).

– Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress stood before the council and requested the city file an application with the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance to fund improvements for law-enforcement capabilities of the Valdosta Police Department and the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office.

The city has received funding under the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program since 2005. Both the LCSO and the VPD teamed to request federal grants to improve law-enforcement programs, prosecution and court programs, prevention and education programs, corrections and community corrections programs, drug treatment and enforcement programs, and planning evaluation and technology improvement programs.

For the 2014 grant program, a lump sum was awarded and the Department of Justice recommended a split between the city and county with the VPD receiving $19,857.15 and the LCSO receiving $4,657.85.

“The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office wants newer in-car cameras, and we are requesting in-car printers and a radar speed detection car,” Childress said.

The application request passed by a 6-0 vote.

Childress also requested that the city apply with the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) under the COPS Hiring Program to fund four additional officers of the VPD to serve as patrol officers.

The city has already completed a three-year COPS grant where it hired seven officers.

This grant will fund 75 percent of the officers' salaries and their fringe benefits with a 25 percent cash match requirement and a maximum federal share of $125,000 per officer position during the three-year agreement.

The application request passed by a 6-0 vote.

• A bid from the Scruggs Company was approved, by a 5-0 vote, in the amount of $232,308.24 for the Georgia Department of Transportation Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant Program. This bid was $30,000 less than the city engineer's estimate.

The initial grant was for $446,354.26, and Hanson said the remaining balance will go toward the paving of roads in the Dogwood area.

•  In one sweeping motion, the Valdosta City Council approved five agenda items, by a 6-0 vote:

A bid from All Bright All Pro for custodial services for the Department of Labor in the amount of $24,000.

A bid from Lewis Steel in the amount of $93,375 for yard roll-off containers for the Public Works Department.

A bid from Otto in the amount of $44.69 for roll-out containers for the Public Works Department.

A bid from Whitehead/Miller Hardware in the amount of $13,263.65 for hand tools for the City of Valdosta. This includes items such as rakes, shovels, gloves, and similar items.

A bid from Hinton Oil to provide the City of Valdosta with gas and diesel fuel for the automotive and equipment fleet in the amount of 6 cents per gallon.

The City of Valdosta adjourned the council meeting, and will not meet again until Thursday, July 10. More information about this council meeting, or the next, contact the City's Public Information Office, (229) 259-3548.

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