By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald
The Rincon City Council held a special called meeting Dec. 4 to discuss and hold a public hearing for its 2024 budget.
The city’s 2023 revenues have shown an increase of just over $1 million.
City Manager Jonathan Lynn highlighted the city’s sound financial standing saying, “We're in a really good financial position. I mean a $1.2 million increase from year over year for a city of our size, that's a really good job of managing that money and the things that have been put into place.”
Lynn added that the 2024 budget for the city is just over $17.6 million – an increase of 8.9% from the 2023 budget of just over $16.1 million. The city’s budget is balanced.
After delineating figures for various departments, Lynn added the new budget includes pay increases for the city’s employees: a 2.5% pay increase for all employees and an additional 2% merit increase for employees who qualify based on their evaluations.
“The recommendation is for the four-and-a-half-percent increase for every employee,” Lynn explained. “Two percent of that will go across the board to every employee as a cost-of-living increase. There is a budget of two-and-a-half-percent merit (increase) for every employee. We have to budget it for every employee, but that has been based on evaluations and not all employees may get that. But we did have to budget that just to be safe and not run into any issues.”
Among the items in the proposed budget are:
· The golf course superintendent position was shifted from contractor to full-time city employee. “It was already funded, but we just wanted people to know that it was shifted from a contractor position to a full-time position,” Lynn said.
· Deputy court clerk position
· Three new full-time police officer positions
· A full-time code enforcement officer, and
· An assistant to the city manager position.
When questioned by Mayor Ken Lee, Lynn clarified it was “an assistant to” not an assistant city manager position.
Lynn added what the proposed budget holds for the city’s $2.5 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds.
· Additional patrol cars for the police department
· $120,000 for Parks (and Recreation) equipment and upgrades to Macomber Park
· $300,000 chipper (and) sweeper equipment for Public Works
· Digital upgrades to the tornado siren system, and
· $23,000 for a police K9 officer.
Lynn also gave an update on what the city has done with the 2023 budget.
“We got our dedicated IT staff member; we got our rinconga.gov team; we started our Microsoft 365 transition; (and the) Patriot Park playground,” Lynn said. “I'm optimistic that that will be finalized before the end of this budget.
“The new golf cart fleet was delivered. We started the implementation of ‘Gogo’ -- our citizen request system,” Lynn said. “Gogo” is a push notification system where residents lodge complaints and requests for repairs to city property such as potholes and pipes.
“I've been told we should be up and running with that by the first of January,” Lynn said. Lynn continued that new software has been implemented for the police department and court; and bids have been awarded for software for the planning and finance departments.
The city’s budget is available to the public at City Hall, 302 S. Columbia Ave. Residents may call City Hall at 912-826-5745 with any questions or concerns.
Lynn said he will give the presentation again at the first reading during the council’s regular meeting on Dec. 11; and the second reading and adoption is scheduled for the council’s regular meeting on Dec. 18.