The Effingham City Council has approved the City’s operating budget for fiscal year 2017, which begins on the first of May and ends on April 30, 2017. The approved budget is balanced at $76,645,390, and meets all of the City’s debt service requirements and reserve requirements. Along with the budget, the Council also approved a five-year capital improvement plan for fiscal years 2017 through 2021. The five year plan includes $61,900,885 in projects, with $19 million in capital improvements for the upcoming FY17.
The Council also met with from representatives of the Effingham Regional Growth Alliance at Tuesday’s meeting. The Alliance is a public/private partnership of local government bodies and business leaders. The group’s goal is to encourage economic growth and the development of business, industry and other supporting services to improve the quality of living all within the region.
Chuck Deters, Chairman, and Claude Hudson, Treasurer, spoke on behalf of the Alliance, requesting the City’s continued participation and providing an update on the Alliance’s activity. If the City chooses to remain in the Alliance, they will pay an annual fee of $50,000 for their membership. The City has been a member of the Alliance since it was formed, though it’s membership fee was lower in previous years.
Commissioner Merv Gillenwater, who was mayor when the Alliance was formed, raised some concerns. He said it is the Council’s job to do what is best for the City, and expressed the need to use tax payer dollars in a way that is best for the tax payer. Gillenwater also said that he wants to see the County contribute, because any positive work done by the Alliance will benefit Effingham County.
Mayor Jeff Bloemker showed support for remaining a member of the Alliance. He said that the group is working to bring the region together, which will make the Effingham Community stronger economically.
As for an update on the Alliance’s progress and recent activity, the group now has 60 members and assets that have grown to over $500,000. The group has been able to support a number of local organizations in the past year, including the Effingham Public Library, the Construction Trades program, and the recently approved Truck Centers project. The Alliance is also currently working to name a new president, which would be the group’s first paid position.
The Council will likely vote on remaining a member at their next meeting, which will be on Tuesday, May 3.