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Porterdale council OKs slightly smaller 2021 budget
Includes funding for new police vehicles, planning for proposed multi-use development
Porterdale City Hall
Porterdale Mayor Arline Chapman speaks during a 2019 meeting. - photo by File Photo

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

The council Thursday, Dec. 17, gave final approval to the plan which 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. It is proposed to include a mix of single-family, townhomes and apartments with a commercial area, along with other features, according to a Development of Regional Impact application filed with the state.

In other funds in the budget, Water & Sewer 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.