Following a request from the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) for an annualized budget, the Milledgeville City Council amended its operating budget for $100,000 Tuesday to continue backing the authority.
The request was for monthly budgeting concurrent with the other agencies funded by the City of Milledgeville. CSHLRA will be included in city audits.
“This was a city project and a commitment that the city made to pursue. The appointed board needs a comfort level, and they are asking for at least one year of funds to ensure they can do some of the things they are tasked with doing,” City Manager Barry Jarrett said. “I recommend strongly that you consider financing. I do have concerns about the future.”
The last budget cycle Council put in a six-month amount of $175,000 for the CSHLRA. Budget costs included lobbying fees of $72,000.
Jarrett requested that amount of money be removed from the current contract.
The city chose to annualize the remaining amount, adding $100,000 to the CSH authority's budget. Denese Shinholster, District 3, questioned whether the city could continue to fund the Central State group at current levels.
Jarrett said CSHLRA Executive Director Mike Couch is going back to the state to request funding. Depending on the state's move, the city must make another decision around next April regarding any additional appropriations.
“If they do receive funding, I'm asking that the funding we have given be reimbursed,” Jarrett said.
Mayor Richard Bentley said the authority wants state support.
“We've been well received by those state agencies. I'm quite confident that we will get that funding,” Bentley said. “They spend upwards of $12 million to maintain what they have out there now. We are trying to do something with it, and all we are asking for is operational funds.”
Jeanette Walden, District 2, said the city funds some entities more than $100,000 that do not present the same job upside.
“It's an opportunity for us to give people jobs. That's what we need around here now. This is the only opportunity that I see for anybody doing anything to create jobs,” Walden said.
Though she supports Central State, Shinholster urged Council not to make quick funding decisions on a large chunk request when much more apprehension is shown to smaller portions that benefit other areas such as youth development.
“I don't have any problems with this, but I want us to stop and think sometimes when we are so hasty about complaining about $5,000 for a youth program,” Shinholster said.
Steve Chambers, District 6, added that the Central State project’s employment realization is three years away.
“At least we've shown that we are behind this and want to move forward aggressively,” Chambers said. “The only way to do that is start immediately.”
In other meeting news:
• Chambers motioned to suspend the first read and accept the amendment to the Code of Ordinances to allow retail sale of alcohol on Sunday. The council approved the ordinance. The sale of malt beverages, wine and distilled spirits will be allowed between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Sundays effective Dec.1.
• Council passed resolutions allowing AT&T to place additional antennas on three existing cell towers on the East Washington, Jefferson Street and Roberson Mill water tanks.
• Council heard the first reading of an ordinance to provide implementation and imposition of an excise tax on energy sold or used in manufacturing.
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