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Porterdale to consider final passage of 2021 city budget tonight
Porterdale Mill
Porterdale Mill - photo by Tom Spigolon

PORTERDALE, Ga. — Porterdale City Council is set to give final approval to a 2021 budget that is a slight decrease from its 2020 spending plan.

The council has scheduled a final public hearing on the spending plan for 6:30 p.m., with adoption set for 7 p.m., at Grace Baptist Church at 474 Crowell Road.

The plan slashes administrative costs while increasing spending for public safety and the zoning and streets departments.

Its General Fund is proposed at $1.454 million, down slightly from $1.458 million in 2020.

The plan increases expenditures for the police department by $36,000 and proposes no change in the department's staffing levels of six full-time positions. 

It also plans for purchase of two new vehicles to replace its current Dodge Chargers after the city had higher than anticipated maintenance costs on them. City Manager Frank Etheridge would like to replace them through a lease-purchase plan, he said.

The Highways and Streets part of the General Fund increases from $239,000 to $257,000 as additional funding is proposed for payroll and health insurance costs. The increase is offset by a 66% cut in the budget for contract labor from $25,000 to $8,100.

Spending in areas of the Planning and Zoning Department will increase based on work needed if development of the proposed Cedar Shoals mixed-use community progresses, Etheridge said.

Cedar Shoals is planned for a 257-acre site on Covington Bypass Road, with development during a four-year period ending in 2025.

It is proposed to include 356 single-family residential lots, 142 townhomes, 720 apartment units, green space and trail development, kayak access to the Yellow River, and commercial development at Georgia Hwy. 81 and Covington Bypass, according to a Development of Regional Impact application filed with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

In other funds, the Water and Sewer budget is proposed to increase from $618,300 in 2020 to $797,450 in 2021.

The increase in expenditures reflects a $15,000 per month payment to Newton County Water and Sewer Authority to help pay off a back debt owed to the agency; and payment on the principal of a loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

They are offset by higher revenues from water and sewer fees, according to the budget plan

Council members earlier this year discovered the city was working to pay down about $1 million owed to a variety of utility agencies after alleged poor accounting practices by a former city manager.

They also approved a property tax rate of 16.072 mills in August that the city is using for its local revenues in part of the 2021 budget year.

Porterdale's 2021 budget will go into effect Jan. 1 because the city operates on a fiscal year that conforms to the calendar year. 

Many other governments and the county school district operate on a July 1-June 30 fiscal year that conforms to the state government's budget year.