City of Vidalia finally gets approved budget

Published 1:16 am Wednesday, May 10, 2017


VIDALIA — To applause from residents in attendance, Vidalia aldermen Tuesday unanimously approved an operating budget with approximately $36.1 million in revenues and approximately $34.6 million in expenditures.

The decision came as Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft made a third attempt to have aldermen pass his administration’s proposed budget.

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The aldermen replaced a budget adopted by the previous administration with a $4.9 million deficit between revenues and expenditures, which Craft said was against state statute.

As of March 31, the town’s revenues are approximately $1.9 million over expenditures, and the administration anticipates at the end of the year that figure will be approximately $1.48 million.

“I want to say thank you to the aldermen for adopting the budget,” Craft said. “Now we can get busy with doing what we need to do to get this upcoming year’s budget seen to.”

During the public hearing, Vidalia resident Corinne Randazzo had a request for the aldermen.

“I make a plea that all aldermen approve the budget,” she said. “We are getting ready to look at another one. I think it would be wonderful to see five people vote yes.”

Alderman Tron McCoy said Craft had previously proposed two other “balanced” budgets that ended up having problems that were fixed in later revisions and even on the third occasion more changes were made.

McCoy said the time frame gave the new administration more time to get an accurate picture of what it was doing.

“Since the beginning, I have asked for more time so you could see actuals versus projections,” McCoy said.

Craft said a budget is always a guideline and adjustments have to be made as a town goes along.

Craft said additionally in response to concerns made at previous meetings by Alderman Tommy Probst and Alderwoman Sabrina Doré about the budget of his administration, that his administration’s budget is 35 percent less than the previous administration’s was.

Doré offered an amendment to Jon Betts’ original motion to include fund-to-fund money transfers, which Craft said he would have no problem including, and also to return the police department’s $50,000 in its capital outlay fund.

Doré said Police Chief Joey Merrill had said he did not need the $104,000 the previous chief had been allotted in capital outlay, but that he requested $50,000 in case he had to replace a vehicle due to an accident.

However, Doré said the entire fund was removed from the budget and she requested it go back in.

Doré said Merrill had a vehicle damaged in the recent storm and he would not need to seek alderman approval to replace it if that fund were replenished to $50,000.

Merrill said he was replacing a police truck for $25,000.

The amendment passed unanimously.