The city of Grantville is not “broke,” according to the city’s financial analyst, Stewart Mills.
At the council’s work session earlier this week, Mills said the combined cash account, which includes the general fund and utility funds, must be accounted for.
“The balance is around $1.7 million, so the city is not going bankrupt, I think it’s financially quite strong,” Mills said.
Councilman Jim Sells disagreed and said the city was spending more money than it was taking in. Sells said the indicator was a proposed property tax increase.
Sells presented general fund sheets for the end of fiscal years 2014 and 2018.
“We have over $1 million less in our fund balance than was there three years ago,” Sells said. “I want to go to the bank and see that $1 million still in there, but it's not. We’ve got a problem here that has run wild.”
Mills said the city does have cash on hand, but he thinks the city still needs the increased millage rate. He said the amount of the tax increase is open for discussion.
City Manager Al Grieshaber said the city’s $1.7 million is enough to cover at least one year of the city’s expenses.
“The money can be used for anything and is not restricted to a certain use,” Grieshaber said.
Greishaber said normally the city likes to have enough money in reserve to cover six months of expenses.
Sells said he will continue to press the issue until the council looks further into the city’s finances.
“I’m gonna scream until they shoot me or put me to rest,” Sells said.
The city’s budget was also the topic of discussion at a special-called meeting Tuesday, July 2 to discuss the condition of the city’s finances.
The city’s accountant, James Edgar of Edgar and Associates LLC, presented financial reports for the city from 2011-2018. He divided the finances into two groups of years, 2011-2013 and 2014-2018.
He said the total expenses of the city have remained fairly steady during this time frame, noting that the only major increase was between fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
Between these years, the city hired six new police officers, there was a pay raise and the city hired a new utility employee, according to Edgar.
Employee cost accounted for 63 percent of the increases in government expenses between 2013 and 2014, according to Edgar.
Public safety was the department with the largest increase, accounting for 49.9 percent of total expenses from 2014 to 2018. Public safety includes the police department and code enforcement, according to Edgar.
Citizens expressed concern for transparency regarding the budget.
Connie Warren suggested a budget committee, made up of city residents. She said she formerly served on a budget committee for the city of Tyrone.
Councilwoman Ruby Hines said she took a class regarding a budget committee at the Georgia Municipal Association Conference last month.
Hines said she plans to present the information to the council and Grieshaber at a later time.