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Ringgold Council passes ’13 budget

Ringgold City Council unanimously passed the 2013 budget, which estimates general government revenues at $2,691,000 and total expenditures of $2,576,000, on second reading Dec. 10.

“In the departments mentioned [in the budget], payroll and benefits are more than 80 percent of the total,” said Ringgold Finance Director Will Baerg. “Pay increases are being limited to 2 percent, including cost of living and merit. Health insurance premiums went up by 15 percent for next year, along with continuing increases in utility expenses and all types of supplies and repair materials.”

The 2012 budget showed revenues of $2,466,000 and expenditures of $2,314,000.

Baerg said costs for financial administration and streets also increased this year. The city is reallocating employees from the sewer department to the streets department, as well as to financial administration. In the sewer department, he said the city ran up against covenants on a bond issue, prompting the city to move existing employees to other departments. The streets department has 11 employees.

“There is no operating money budgeted for street or sidewalk paving in 2013,” said Baerg, referring to the $838,000 budgeted for streets in 2013. “Of the $838,000 amount, $690,000 is for salaries and benefits; $20,000 is for street materials; $28,000 is for gasoline and diesel on the vehicles; $10,000 is for vehicle maintenance; and $33,000 is for street and traffic light electricity.

“There is only $20,000 budgeted for materials for in-house repairs such as potholes and other damage. Any paving that is needed must be funded by SPLOST or some type of state funding. There are no projects for parks and recreation in the operating budget for 2013. Any projects must be funded by grants or SPLOST.”

The $644,000 budgeted for police does not include new computers, vehicles or heavy equipment, he said, adding that for all city departments, just $7,000 is allocated for small miscellaneous equipment priced at under $1,000 apiece. The majority of the Police Department’s allotment is for salaries and benefits if that amount, $586,000 is for salaries and benefits, and $25,000 is for gasoline and diesel. For example, the two humvees in use by Ringgold police were donated from U.S. Army surplus and were completely free of charge.

He said the Police Department is currently pursuing grants from several sources for needed equipment. There are nine full-time police officers and two part-time reserve officers.

Fire and rescue service is contracted through Catoosa County in return for whatever the city of Ringgold receives in Insurance Premium Taxes. The amount budgeted for 2013 for fire and rescue is $178,000.

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