Politics & Government

Here’s a first look at Mayor Skip Henderson’s proposed budget, featuring city pay raises

Mayor Skip Henderson presented his first recommended budget to Columbus Council Tuesday evening and gave a brief summary of the highlights.

The total balanced budget recommended is $282,597,030.00 in revenue and expenses, which is a 2.64 percent increase over the fiscal year 2019 adopted budget.

Big changes include a $1 million allocation for demolitions of blighted properties and pay raises for all city employees.

City Building Inspections and Code Enforcement Director John Hudgison said Monday that his demolition budget for 2019 is $56,000, with an average cost of $8,000 for each demolition.

Henderson said the funding will “rid some of the neighborhoods from having to look at these burned out, skeletal remains of trailer parks and also take down some of the homes that have been marked for demolition that we just never had the funding to do.”

The funding will be a one-time expense, Henderson said.

The proposed budget also includes a 1 percent raise for all full-time city employees hired on or before June 30, 2018 as well as a 1 percent cost of living increase for all employees.

Both of those raises will go into effect in January 2020.

Henderson said his proposed budget does not use fund balance to balance the budget. His budget also anticipates a slight increase in the tax digest.

“Even though we had a slight decrease last year in the digest, we do anticipate . . . a very modest increase that we expect in the tax digest this year,” Henderson said.

Henderson is serving his first term as Columbus mayor but has served on council since 1997, and during that time served six years as chair of the budget committee.

District 9 at-large Councilor Judy Thomas was appointed chair of the budget committee for fiscal year 2020 while District 10 at-large Councilor John House was appointed vice chair.

Check ledger-enquirer.com for updates on this breaking story.