The Oneonta City Council unanimously approved its FY 2020/2021 budget at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22. With projected revenue budgeted at $9,111,300 and projected expenses budgeted at $8,959,750, the city has a cushion of approximately $152,000.
Budget highlights include a 2 percent cost of living increase for all city employees. This is in addition to the recent approval by the council to allow employees classified as Tier II to gain Tier I status giving those employees better retirement options and benefits.
“I think both of these together are something this council should be very proud of,” city manager Ed Lowe said. “This is a very good budget and they have put a lot of thought into every aspect of this budget.”
During the budget work sessions, several different ideas were discussed. Much of that discussion centered on the amount of a cost of living increase, additional funding for the Oneonta City School system, and continued funding of the Blount County Economic Development Council.
Council member Richard Phillips proposed a 1.5 percent cost of living increase, a 1 percent increase for the school system, a $10,000 increase to the Oneonta Business Association, and decreasing Blount County EDC funding to $10,000. Danny Robinson proposed a 3 percent employee cost of living increase. It was pointed out that if the city allocated 3 percent for that increase, it would leave the city with no additional funds for other needs.
In the end, the council chose to not renew its $14,000 contract for services with the Blount County EDC. Lowe said, “Our agreement to fund the EDC was for five years and it was our understanding that after this initial contract, they would be self sufficient. It was never the intent of this administration to fund them beyond this contract.”
As mentioned earlier, the council settled on a 2 percent cost of living increase, which allowed for a .5 percent increase to the school’s funding. Funding for the Oneonta Business Association remained the same as previous years at $10,000.
“I am very optimistic about the future of Oneonta,” Lowe said. “Everything is moving in a very positive way. The revenue continues to steadily increase and has over the last eight years. That is a very positive indicator for the overall future of this city.”