Vidalia board approves 2019-2020 operating budget

Published 12:11 am Tuesday, June 4, 2019


VIDALIA — The Vidalia Board of Aldermen approved an operating budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year Thursday evening during their regularly scheduled meeting.

A budget summary written by the City Accountant Debra Moak shows the town is projected to begin the fiscal year with a fund balance of $25,989,823 and end the year with a $2.3 million surplus.

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The budget summary shows projected revenue of $36,989,329 with no change in ad valorem or sales tax rates and projects expenditures will amount to $34,657,714.

Moak said salaries and benefits for all the town’s personnel have increased by 3 percent across the board after a cost-of-living pay raise had been added to the budget.

The budget also projects tax revenues would trend upward next fiscal year thanks to the addition of new commercial businesses.

Alderman Sabrina Doré moved to have two items amended in the budget before it was approved, both of which passed unanimously.

The first request came from Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill, who said though salaries and wages were supposed to have been increased across the board, his department showed a decrease because overtime pay had not been included.

Doré moved to increase the line item for the departments’ wages by $106,000 so that overtime could be paid to police staff if needed.

Doré also moved to increase the amount allocated for street repair by $500,000 due to an unknown amount of damages that likely would result from the prolonged flooding stage of the Mississippi River.

“We are experiencing an unheard of flood,” Doré said. “We have no idea what we’re about to face.”

Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said $650,000 had been listed in the budget for streets and $500,000 in sewer repairs and the total cost of those repairs could not be determined until the floodwater recedes.

After some debate over how much would be needed to repair flood damages, the proposed budget, along with the two revisions, passed by a vote of 4-1, with Alderman Tommy Probst voting against it.

No other actions were taken during Thursday’s meeting of the Vidalia Board of Aldermen.