budget approval

Employees will receive their cost of living raises on schedule and city operations will proceed ahead for another year. Blackshear City Council unanimously approved a $2.6 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2021 at a called meeting last Wednesday, June 24. The new budget year begins today, July 1.

“I appreciate the council coming together tonight, and we will continue to have dialogue and believe for great things in the upcoming fiscal year,” Mayor Kevin Grissom said after the budget was passed.

Budget approval was initially slated for Tuesday, June 16, but there was not a quorum of council members present to vote on the adoption that night. The budget was then voted down 3-2 at another called meeting Thursday, June 18.

The council reached a consensus on four budget sticking points at a work session Monday, June 22, and then passed the budget last Wednesday as originally presented which did not require the budget to be re-advertised and another public hearing scheduled.

Councilman Shawn Godwin made a motion to reconsider adoption of the budget last Wednesdayand the motion passed. The council then voted to pass the budget with Godwin, Linda Gail Dennison, Timmy Sapp, Corey Lesseig and Keith Brooks voting in favor. Councilman Charles Broady was absent.

At last Monday’s work session, Godwin proposed an additional 2 percent pay increase  — on top of the budgeted 3 percent cost of living raise  — for city employees, and a $5 per call pay increase for volunteer firefighters. Those two items would have resulted in a $50,086 increase to the overall budget. (The council’s budget work session was covered in detail in last week’s edition of The Times.)

The council agreed instead to pay employees a hazard pay bonus out of the current fiscal year budget’s contingency funds (see related story), and will consider a resolution to increase firefighter pay at the first monthly meeting in July. The increase in firefighter pay from $35 to $40 per call will total $8,000.