Phenix City Council: Budget hearing set

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By Blenda Copeland

Thursday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. ET is the date and time set for the Phenix City Council’s public budget hearing. The hearing is open to the public and will be held in the city council chamber at the Public Safety Building, 1111 Broad St., Phenix City.

This is the time when the city will formally present to the public a summary of the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year of 2018-’19.

During a work session update Monday, Assistant City Manager Steve Smith told the council about minor revisions to the previously discussed proposed budget. Smith highlighted a $30,000 appropriation to Chattahoochee Valley Community College; $50,000 budgeted for architecture/engineering needs – “seed money” to get plans started – for Miracle League-style recreational equipment designed for people with special needs. Smith also said changes were made as instructed to three areas of salaries. The three adjustments mentioned will increase the proposed budget by $5,090. There also was a re-calculation in another area of the budget, Smith added.

Meanwhile, Smith also updated the council that due to a mistake by Standard & Poor’s, the city’s Public Building Authority rating has technically been downgraded from a AA- rating to A+. The incorrect rating had been in place since 2010, Smith said, however, the correction does not change the city’s overall credit rating, which remains at AA-. Smith said S&P sent the city a letter of apology for its mistake, explaining that the inadvertent error was noticed during an internal review.

During the explanation, Smith also reiterated that the reason the city maintains such a good credit rating is because of its high level of reserves. The good credit rating affords the city the benefit of lower interest rates and helps the city with regard to the bond market. Keeping the numbers in perspective, Smith also noted of the city’s finances that, “Relative to our income level, we have relatively high debt,” which is a reason the city has to work harder to improve its credit rating even more.

City Manager Wallace Hunter added to Smith’s words, noting that the city is in the middle of “updating our five-year plan” and there are other projects on the horizon. He talked about $14 million worth of utility work that has been completed/or is in the process of completion, as well as an estimated $20 million or so more worth of work that is probably needed in the future. He also spoke of the city’s increased property tax values and the fact that the city has “done a lot” since the Great Recession that began around 2007/2008.

Members of the public who wish to inspect the City of Phenix City’s proposed budget may do so during the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET at the City Clerk’s Office, 601 12th St., Phenix City. A copy of the budget also should be posted to the city’s Web site soon.

In other highlights, during its meeting Tuesday, the city approved:

-Election officials/poll workers and their pay for the upcoming Aug. 28 city-wide referendum on whether to have an elected or city-council appointed city school board

-A resolution allowing the mayor, city manager and police chief to enter a contract allowing the City of Auburn to hire Phenix City police officers for extra security during Auburn football games this football season

-A resolution supporting the Leonardo-DRS T-100 trainer jet project that could possibly come to historic Moton Field in Tuskegee, Ala., — the field where the famous Tuskegee Airmen trained, noting that its regional economic impact could be felt even in Phenix City

-The Phenix City Housing Authority’s application for conditional use for property at 200 16th St., which will allow the authority to construct multi-family housing along Whitewater Avenue