City administrator trims budget without cutting jobs

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January 31, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---More than a million dollars of your money has been cut from the city budget.

For months, city leaders have talked about having to fire employees to do it.

Now the city administrator says no one has to lose their job. But some city leaders are not happy.

Fred Russell says sales tax revenues are higher than expected. He says that, along with the number of vacant positions, means no filled positions have to go.

But some commissioners say that won't fix the problem.

"Personally, I thought he should have made more cuts," said Commissioner Don Grantham.

"I don't think he's being a good steward of the taxpayer's money, and I'm disappointed 100 percent," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

As a part of balancing the 2007 budget, $1.6 million in job cuts were to be made. But Fred Russell told commissioners that because sales tax revenues are six percent higher than expected, simply deleting 42 vacant positions would do.

Some commissioners say some of those vacant positions in license and inspection and landscaping are jobs the city needs to fill, and that positions in departments like recreation need to be the ones to go.

"What about cemeteries that need to be cleaned?" Williams asked. "We're not going to do that. What about the people we need for code enforcement? We got trash and junk cars all over the city."

"I think there are just as many people unhappy that we didn't send anybody home that are happy that we didn't send anybody home," Russell said. "I walk a fine line between trying to make ten people happy."

Commissioner Williams also says the administrator's plan to add employees in the recreation and HR departments and not others is unfair.

Russell says this was just a start.

"We need to look at all the departments and make sure we adequately pay people for what they do," he said. "I said we'd bring it back...what we need is to do it right."

Now this debate goes to the Administrative Services Committee. They've got to come to some agreement, because this $1.6 million in job cuts was approved when they okayed on the budget.



 
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