GREEN Green City Council recently held a lengthy discussion on the 2020 operating appropriations which is $33,802,678.

The budget is a 5.28 percent increase from last year, or approximately $1.7 million more compared to last year’s operating budget.

Last year’s budget for the city was $32,106,610.

Green Finance Director Steven Schmidt said the increase is because of new employees, an increased cost in healthcare and an additional pay period in 2020.

Councilman Chris Humphrey said it is important to keep in mind that throughout the year City Council appropriates additional money to the budget for certain needs. He said along with the additional appropriations this year’s budget is only a 1.72 percent increase from last year.

In 2020, the city will add a part-time law director for a total cost with benefits of $91,797. The city is also expected to fill the deputy service director position in March, which has been vacant for several years. The deputy service director is expected to make $91,110 with benefits.

With the construction of fire station three in full swing, the city will hire eight fire medics for the station. The city also plans to add a full-time planner starting in June at $52,541.

The city’s healthcare insurance premium is expected to increase by 5 percent.

Councilman Stephen Dyer raised concerns about a line item in the budget for the mayor to receive a new car for $30,000. Schmidt said the car being in the budget has been there since 2006. The mayor’s current car approved in the 2016 budget was only leased. Schmidt did not know if the new car would be bought or leased.

He also added the mayor is the city’s safety director and has to be on call 24/7 and needs a vehicle to respond to concerns.

Dyer also asked about the proposed new chief of staff position, which was in the original budget for $141,233 with benefits per year. Schmidt said that the item has been removed from the budget for now.

Also, Dyer asked about why there is no funding for fire station four in the budget. Humphrey said he would like to see the response times once the third fire station opens and go from there. He also said the chief is developing a plan for station four.

Councilman Rocco Yeargin said the budget is very close to last year except for this year the additional cost is the increase of fire services.

Mayor Gerard Neugebauer said Schmidt has done an outstanding job creating a realistic budget. He said a lot of work goes into getting the operating projections in line with spending.

Council is expected to vote on the budget during the Dec. 10 meeting.

Council also discussed the capital improvements budget, which is $20,945,807.

Yeargin asked City Engineer Paul Pickett if he felt the money set aside for resurfacing is a good amount, to which Pickett replied as it being reasonable. The city also does in-house resurfacing, Yeargin said, and with the in-house work and the planned resurfacing the total cost is $3.2 million for 2020.

Dyer said he would like to boost the in-house paving and do additional streets. Neugebauer said the city could hire additional workers, but then it would also need additional paving equipment to have a second paving crew.

Council is not expected to vote on the capital improvements budget until January as the city wants to amend the tax budget and include some grant money it is receiving.