The City of Winder will hold a public hearing Thursday, May 21, on the city’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Winder Community Center, 113 East Athens St. The meeting will also be available via Zoom for those not wanting to attend in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can join the Zoom meeting by computer or the app or by calling 877-853-5257 or 888-475-4499. The meeting is 819 4531 3982 and the password is 730608.

The Winder City Council is scheduled to take a final vote on the budget at its 6 p.m. June 2 meeting, and the new fiscal year will begin July 1.

City officials are proposing a $43.6 million total operating budget — about $256,000 less than the current fiscal year — and a $17.3 million General Fund budget with a little more than $250,000 in projected increases.

The projected 1.7-percent increase in the General Fund is due largely to the city’s newly-formed economic development department, which is being led by Maddison Dean, who had been city clerk until earlier this year.

The city is also projecting an increase in collections from its library assessment fee. The city assesses each single-family residential and standard commercial parcel a $32 fee to fund up to $200,000 in annual operations at the Winder Public Library and uses excess revenues for library building maintenance.

The proposed water fund has been budgeted at $13.4 million, a 2-percent increase due to expected increases in infrastructure repairs and maintenance. Meanwhile, the Gas Fund is projected to drop 7 percent to $7.1 million due to an expected drop in billed volumes and a reduction in natural gas costs.

A little more than $20 million has been proposed in capital requests across all departments for FY21, with more than $11 million coming from the Water Fund. Work on the future Auburn/Winder reservoir project will account for roughly a fourth of the total capital requests ($5 million). Among the other large projects slated for the new fiscal year include a $1.6 million rehabilitation of Linwood Avenue and Mimosa Street and a $1.3 million walking trail connecting Fort Yargo State Park near downtown, which will be mostly funded through a state grant.

Personnel costs would make up a third of the city’s total operating budget if it is approved as presented. A 7-percent increase in insurance is projected, and city employees will be eligible for a 3-percent merit-pay raise after Jan. 1 if economic conditions allow, city officials have said, referencing the ongoing pandemic which has had an effect on the budget preparation.

The city is only budgeting for $30,000 in hotel/motel revenue, down by more than 50 percent from the $73,400 approved for the current fiscal year. And several unfilled positions have been frozen and unfunded in the next proposed budget, including a police captain position.

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