The Hoschton City Council approved both its General Fund and Water and Sewer budgets at a meeting last week.
The big issue in the budget is the town’s struggling Water& Sewer Fund. To balance that fund, the city convinced GEFA to allow the town to have a 3-year break in making its debt payments, an amount that would have cost the town an additional $465,000 this year had those payments been due. Even without those payments, the town’s water system will have a shortfall next year in its operations expense. To cover that , the city plans to transfer $200,000 from its General Fund into the Water & Sewer Fund in 2014 to keep the water system afloat. The system has reportedly used up its reserves.
At the council meeting on Dec. 30, councilmember Scott Butler reviewed how the town had struggled to get its finances on better footing, including having taken such actions as abolishing the town’s police department to get spending under control.
“We’ve now got Ali — and Karen is still with us —and we’ve got Mark and Jim and they’re just showing a great commitment to make sure that we diligently manage this opportunity that I think GEFA has afforded us. And so I’m looking forward to four years from now when we’ll be on our way to financial sustainability as a city. I think we have stopped the sinking of the ship and we’re riding it and we’re making progress…”
However, discussion on the loan holiday was minimal because GEFA hasn’t supplied the city with paperwork for the loan repayment program.
The city’s Water and Sewer budget also incudes a 10 percent raise for the utilities clerk and a new employee salary of $63,174. In the General Fund, the budget has a 4.1 percent raise for city clerk Ali Merk to $45,300 per year.