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City council approves six-month budget
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 The Covington City Council approved the city's first and only six-month budget at their Monday night city council meeting.

The mid-2007 decision to change over from calendar-year budget cycle to a fiscal-year budget cycle required that the city put out a six-month budget to close the gap between the two cycles said City Clerk John Grotheer.

This was done to improve the city's synchronization with other local government agencies such as the Newton County Board of Education and the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority, said Grotheer. Having the same budget cycle will allow for greater collaboration on joint projects he said.

Revenues for the city from Jan. 1 to June 31, 2008, are $70,988,174. Expenditures from that same period are $70,439,361. There is a surplus of $548,813.

The six-month budget does not include any increases in the city's gas, electric, sewer and sanitation rates.

The budget does not include revenues from 2008 ad valorem taxes as they will not be collected until the second half of the year. According to Grotheer there is no anticipated increase in the city's mileage rate which has remained the same for the past four years.

In 2006 the city collected $5 million in ad valorem taxes. For 2007 the city is budgeted to collected $5.2 million according to the budget.

Grotheer said the city is anticipating an increase in sales tax revenue due to the recent opening of the Home Depot and Super Wal-Mart on Ga. Highway 142.

In 2006 the city collected $2 million from the Local Option Sales Tax. For 2007 the city has budgeted $1.8 million in collections from the tax. The city has also budgeted for $1.6 million to be collected from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Due to Gov. Sonny Perdue's mandate that Newton County cut its water consumption levels by 10 percent, the city of Covington is also anticipating a decrease in revenues from the sale of water.

Because the six-month budget does not include revenues from ad valorem taxes, Grotheer said city department heads were asked to hold down their capital expenditures to a minimum for the six-month cycle.

The city administration will begin working on the fiscal year 2008 budget sometime in April or May Grotheer said.