It was standing room only at the City Council meeting Tuesday night as more than 50 residents packed the 's small meeting room to weigh-in at the city's first Public Hearing on the new budget.
But before Mayor Mike Mason opened up the meeting for public comment, he spent a few minutes to explain how the budget differs from the numbers provided in the Carl Vinson Institute study. The study, he reminded the audience, was used only to determine if a limited-service city was feasible.
"We all know everyone is here to talk about the budget," said the mayor. "I've been getting phone calls, emails and even stopped in the grocery store by some of you. It's easy to understand the confusion."
The feasibility study, he explained, was needed to introduce the legislation for cityhood to the General Assembly. It was, he said, "full of assumptions."
After Mason spoke five residents stood before the City Council to express their concerns on the proposed $2.7 million budget.
Long-time resident Jimmy Neese expressed his concern that the new limited-service city could "get out of control and at some point add a police force and other services. "If we don't keep a cap on it, its going to get out of control. I hope you guys listen to us and keep the city a city-lite."
Mary Beth Stickney, whose husband Brian ran for the the Post 6 city council seat, worried about the extra expenses, such as the proposed call center that was not mentioned during the campaign.
"I ask you to question some of these items," said Stickney. "such as the call center." And 17 percent is too high for a retirement plan for a city manager." Stickney asked that the City Council to limit the millage rate to .25 and not a full 1 mill as proposed in the budget. "Please cut this and cut these expenses," she said.
Gray Terry, who ran for the Post 5 seat, pointed out that some of the revenue streams were missing such as the municipal court expenses, which was not on the itemized budget.
Chattahoochee Station resident Gary Shell said "the budget in general looks a little rounded, a little fluffy," and asked the City Council to "sharpen those budgets. The budget looks too comfortable," he said.
The city will hold its second Public Hearing on the budget on Tuesday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the YMCA.
A copy of the Carl Vinson Institute's study is available on the city's website.