Winder OKs budget amid turmoil

WINDER -- City council members voted 5-1 to approve a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, despite councilman David Maynard's admonishment to staff to present a budget that does not exceed last year's.

Mayor Chip Thompson explained that the state's unfunded mandates to conserve and treat the water supply are what drove the budget up by a few hundred thousand dollars. Even so, Maynard wanted further cuts to services so that taxpayers are not burdened further with higher taxes.

Leslie Henderson, the city's Finance Director, added that the city's actual operating budget came in $263,000 lower than last year's budget, but the state's directives to protect water added $760,000 to the budget needs.

Municipalities must comply with the state's mandates, but the state makes no provisions to help them fund the necessary measures. The 2011 budget is up $522,000 from last year's.

During the sometimes lively discussions during Tuesday night's council meeting, Maynard and councilman Bob Dixon told Thompson that they want every project that costs money to be presented to city council before any money is actually spent.

According to Maynard, thousands of dollars have been spent and loans solicited in the past, before council members even vote to proceed with a project.

Maynard cast the only "no" vote regarding the proposed $46,710,000 budget.

Councilman Ridley Parrish said in making the motion to approve the budget, "I think we've got a bare bones budget that we've worked a long time on."