The Bainbridge City Council has approved its budget for its 2015 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
The proposed general fund budget for the upcoming fiscal year is about $9.3 million dollars, making up the largest single portion of the $19 million budget.
Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby said the budget is largely a continuation of the 2014 budget.
He said the city has been operating in the red the last few years and has utilized reserve funds to make up the difference. A property tax increase of two mills is projected to increase revenue and help the city balance its budget. Even in the best case scenario regarding revenue from sales tax and other sources, the city will only return about $274,000 to the general fund. Without the millage rate increase, the city would be operating at an approximately $666,000 deficit.
One of the factors behind the deficit is that the costs of providing health care for the city’s employees is continuing to rise. Some of the reasons behind the rising health care costs include changes in health care law and also larger than expected insurance claims. City leaders are enhancing a wellness program for city employees in response.
The 2015 budget takes a wait-and-see approach on any non-essential expenses. There are no plans to make any capital purchases, such as vehicles or equipment, at least until the city’s financial condition can be re-evaluated next spring, Hobby said. The sixth round of the Special Purpose Local Option sales tax is set to begin next year, but there are also no plans to use SPLOST money for any special projects other than paying off debt associated with previous projects.