Originally created 11/21/00

City panel OKs 2001 spending



North Augusta City Council adopted its 2001 budget and tax rate Monday, then welcomed its newest council member, Arthur H. Shealy.

The council unanimously approved the city's budget, which will bring in $41,310 more than it spends, with revenue projected at $17,395,608 and expenditures at $17,354,298.

The budget received little feedback during its prior two visits before council, with the exception being from the council's newest member, Mr. Shealy. At a public hearing and on first and second reading, Mr. Shealy voiced concerns over unneeded expenditures within the budget.

"I think the city can operate on a tighter budget," Mr. Shealy said, citing North Augusta's several consecutive years of budget surpluses.

Mr. Shealy conducted an independent audit of the city's budget last week. He said the city could afford to direct part of its budget toward health insurance for city employees, and citywide taxes could be lowered.

"Use a sharper pencil," Mr. Shealy quipped, adding,"The one good thing about having money left over is that there's room for mistakes."

City officials defended the budget and said it could withstand the scrutiny of "any accountant."

"The budget allows the city to move forward in many directions," City Administrator Charles Martin said."We don't allocate money toward anything that we don't want filled. You've got to have the funds. We can't even advertise for a job if we don't have funding for the position."

The city's 2001 tax rate will remain the same and passed unanimously. Millage rates are 72.72 for the general fund and 9.02 for the capital projects fund, totaling 81.74. The rate remains unchanged from the 1992 level except for adjustments and reassessments.

The rate means the owner of a $100,000 house would pay $327 a year for city taxes. The percentage of taxes assessed varies by type of property and can be different for other classifications.

Mr. Shealy did not vote on either budget issue because he was not sworn in until after the votes.

"I think it's going to be fun," Mr. Shealy said. "I'm still learning the dynamics. I hope voters continue to support me in my efforts.

The council also issued a proclamation making Nov. 28 Savannah River Site Day.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (706) 823-3218.