Only one Rome resident spoke during the public hearing and first reading on Rome’s 2020 draft budget during Monday’s City Commission meeting.
“I’m not sure if I’m speaking for or against the budget. It’s more of just an observation,” Charles Love, a leader of the North Rome Community Action Committee, told the commission before sharing his concerns about Eagle Park.
“This is a quality-of-life issue,” he said. “Eagle Park has been off the city’s rolls for six years and we want to be proactive in saying we’d like the park to be upgraded. We’d like to see things done to address the deficiencies at the park.”
The park on Reese Street had been under lease to a church organization led by John and Terri Mayes for several years.
“Eagle Park is definitely on our radar,” City Manager Rich told Love. “The process has been slower than what we would have liked, but there have been a number of discussions on adding the park back into the master plan. We’re heading in the right direction.”
Additional good news in regard to the city’s budget includes no anticipated millage rate increase, no rate increase for the fifth year for business licenses and landfill fees, performance-based merit increases of zero to 4% for city employees, a 0.5% increase in the 401K match from the city for employees and a balanced General Fund with a 3.1% increase in operational expenses.
The bad news is, there is a 2.5% increase in water and sewer rates for 2020, the city and its employees will experience a 2% increase in health insurance costs, and an extra payroll for 2020 led to a fund balance appropriation of $325,000 to cover the additional expense that equals a single payroll for the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department.
Rich and Mayor Bill Collins praised the city’s new Finance Director Toni Rhinehart for all her hard work putting the budget documents together and balancing the budgets in a timely fashion.
“She burned a lot of midnight oil,” Rich said of Rhinehart, who took over after the retirement of longtime director Sheree Shore. “It’s been a crazy busy year and the draft is huge.”
The budget will have its second reading and adoption at the commission’s Dec. 16 meeting on the second floor of Rome City Hall, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Also at Monday’s meeting, commissioners approved an amended noise ordinance allowing the city’s new plastic garbage containers that are less than 100 gallons to be exempt from the rule prohibiting the handling of trash containers between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.