Presiding over her last budget before leaving office at the end of this year, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson won approval Tuesday from Columbus Council on a 2019 fiscal year budget of $275.3 million.
“It’s an important day,” Tomlinson said before council approved the budget that raises the garbage collection fee by $1 to $18 a month and gives all full-time city employees a raise of 1.5 percent.
The fiscal budget is a 2.7 percent increase from the fiscal 2018 spending plan of $268,031,916 and leaves the city with only 63.9 days in reserve funds. Each day of the reserve fund is worth $419,846. The fiscal operating and capital improvement budget for the Columbus Consolidated Government starts July 1 and ends June 30, 2019.
Under the approved spending plan, 2,380 classified full-time employees will receive a pay increase of 1.5 percent effective on Aug. 11 for those hired on or before June 30, 2018, and 0.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment during the same month. The pay raise and cost of living adjustment will cost the city a total of $1,944,330.
The 10-member council has been reluctant to approve an increase in the Integrated Waste Management Fund Budget over the years but agreed with a $1 increase this year to fund the $13.2 million budget. The city has faced challenges with outdated equipment to provide once-a-week garbage collection service, pickup of bulky waste and inert materials such as tree limbs and lawn clippings.
With health-care cost increasing for Muscogee County Jail inmates, the city included an excess of $600,000 to Piedmont Columbus Regional Midtown for excess inmate care.
Tomlinson, the first female mayor for the city, will be succeeded in January 2019 by Berry “Skip” Henderson, who resigned his citywide Columbus Council seat to run for mayor. He won election without a runoff for the seat Tomlinson has held the office since Jan. 3, 2011.
Henderson was first elected to the 10-member council in 1996 and won five at-large elections over more than two decades of service.