The council has been working with several versions of the budget, and last week elected to move forward with the fifth and final version, which has a total budget amount of $118.2 million and a general fund budget of $33.6 million.
The other budget the council was spending most of its time looking at was the first version, which was higher in both the total budget of $121.6 million and $36.2 million general fund.
Mayor Earnestine Pittman said there were some principal differences between the first and last version, one of the primary ones being the city’s annual payment into its pension fund.
East Point has $59 million to pay into the fund, and the state of Georgia has given the city 40 years to meet that figure, with only nine years remaining.
The city has, in year’s past, fluctuated on the annual payments to the pension fund, and the budget the council is currently considering changes the payment to a constant dollar plan.
“If this council adopts a constant dollar amount, they are paying the same amount each year, instead of going up and down,” she said.
Currently, the city is paying $6.4 million to the fund, and the budget increases that amount to paying $7.2 million each year. That way, in nine years, the city won’t have to default, which is not an option, Pittman said.
During last week’s meeting, Interim Finance Director Derrick Cannon said he was instructed by the mayor to comb through the budget and find savings to funnel into a higher payment into the pension fund.
He said in year’s past, too much money has been budgeted for salaries, and while that additional overage was not in fact paid to the employees, the overlap was typically transferred to other departments upon need.
By reformulating the actual salary budgets, Cannon said he was able to find the additional savings.
Pittman said the budget has a proposed millage rate of 15 mils, which was the same as the first version.
She said there have been no salary cuts, and there are no furlough days, unpaid holidays or layoffs.
“There are no salary cuts yet, because we are still working on the budget,” Pittman said.
Two city projects — the auditorium renovation and building of a government center — are underfunded in the current budget and savings need to be found to provide more money to both initiatives, she said.