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City plans 3 percent spending reduction
Revenues expected to decline with waning building boom
City of Statesboro seal

    Statesboro leaders plan to cut spending next year in response to the expected end of the apartment-building boom the city is experiencing.
    Despite an approximate 3 percent cut to general fund spending — the general fund accounts for several areas, including engineering, administration, police and planning — City Manager Frank Parker said he is happy with the city’s fiscal state.
    “As for the city’s financial situation, I think that I can say this confidently: We are in the top 10 percent of cities in the nation,” Parker said. “Most cities are having to slash their budgets and we haven’t had to do that. We are spending our money more wisely and, still, are able to expand the fire department, build the I-16/Highway 301 interchange, work with Georgia Southern University on major projects, and do other things that will help citizens in the long term.”
    According to Statesboro Finance Director Cindy West, the cuts will be spread throughout city departments, affecting costs associated with postage, travel, training and more.
    The city will spend fewer general fund dollars in fiscal 2014, which begins July 1, 2013, to account for a corresponding projected drop in revenues.
    “We are projecting slightly lower revenues this year than last year, because the amount of commercial construction — multifamily housing projects, mostly — will probably level out some,” Parker said.
    The city experienced a windfall of large, multifamily apartment complexes in fiscal 2013 — including Aspen Heights, Monarch301 and One Eleven South — targeting college students. Building permits and other costs associated with the projects contributed to the city’s general fund.
    Even with the drop in general fund revenue, all but two city departments — fleet management and solid waste disposal — will grow their operating budgets next year.
    The solid waste collection, engineering, natural gas, fire, police, and water/sewer departments will each have more money to spend thanks, in large part, to concerted efforts in the previous year to become more efficient.
    “We appreciate the good effort by all of our departments to continue looking for ways to save our taxpayers money,” Mayor Joe Brannen said.
    During the retreat, department leaders unveiled a slate of capital improvement projects they plan to tackle next year.
    Some items discussed, and budgeted for, include: the final phase of construction for a sidewalk on Gentilly Road ($100,000), intersection improvements to West Grady and College streets ($175,000), a new city fire station ($750,000), new police vehicles ($350,000), commercial garbage trucks ($550,000), and water/sewer extensions to the Cawana/Burkhalter Road area ($650,000).
   
    Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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