Council members unanimously approved a $3.374 million general fund budget for 2013. The current year’s budget is $3.446 million.
City Manager Robbie Rokovitz said the reason for the slight decrease was a reduction in internal operations benefits. This entailed a reduction of overtime for city police department personnel and some cuts in city employee benefits, which decreased the amount of payback on accrued sick leave.
“The city has continued to provide the same level of service,” said Rokovitz, “by working more with less. Employees are making sacrifices with things they have been used to, but to keep the city solid, they have contributed and sacrificed.”
Rokovitz explained that without the collection of property tax in Hiram, the city has to rely on other sources of income to sustain services.
Deemed “other taxes” in the 2013 budget, $1.037 million will be collected through franchise taxes, received from utility companies such as Comcast, Greystone Power and Georgia Power, he said. Other taxes include occupational tax, financial institution tax, insurance premium tax, beer and wine wholesale tax, permits and fees.
“We’re in good shape because of cash reserves,” said the city manager. “From a revenue to expenditure standpoint, there is a lot of room for improvement.”
Currently, the city holds $6.6 million in general fund cash reserves and $320,000 in water (enterprise fund) reserves.
Rokovitz announced a balanced budget in the city’s year-end general, enterprise and special revenue funds during the special meeting
The city has several 2011 special purpose local option sales tax projects that are waiting to be done this year, Rokovitz said. This SPLOST will expire in 2017, explained Rokovitz.
Funds are set to replace a playground at Strickland Park and to remodel a former bank building on Hwy. 92 purchased by the city to be used as a community center.
Also scheduled is a sidewalk project from Seaboard Avenue to Powder Springs Street and a Hiram welcome sign, to be placed on U.S. Hwy. 278 in the area bordering Cobb County, he said.
A public works facility is needed by the city as well for funding with the tax. Currently, public works is housed at city hall, but space is needed to accommodate equipment.
It is hoped that space can be found in an industrial area and be funded through SPLOST, Rokovitz said.