Albany commissioners discuss city budget concerns

Pay increases for city employees and a permit for a new fiber optic cable line were two hot topics at the table for Albany City Commissioners

Pay increases for city employees and a new fiber optic cable line were two heavily discussed items at Tuesday evening's Albany City Commission meeting.

When it came to budget talks, Commissioner Roger Marietta suggested the two percent Cost of Living increase for city employees be reduced one percent. He says other areas have not received a COLA increase for the last two to three years. He also says the board of commissioners need to be sensitive to the concerns of citizens who are worried about the economic conditions.

"We understand there these are steep times and the budget in the future is going to be impacted by this COLA," says Marietta.

Marietta's fellow commissioners say they should utilize the cola increase not because money might not be there in the future. Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard says city employees deserve the raise.

"It's nice to be generous but at the same time can we afford it and this $631,000 is going to follow us all in the future," says Marietta. The $631,000 is the amount allotted in the city's budget for COLA increases.

Commissioner Christopher Pike says to make sure COLA increases to city employees do not hurt the city's budget in the future that the commission should evaluate the city's projected revenue for the next five to six years now before "D-Day" comes.

The city's budget for July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, was approved 6-1, with Marietta being the one vote against the budget. Albany Mayor Willie Adams says the city's budget is balanced.

Another hot topic at the commission table was a request from Windstream KDL for a permit to contract and install 5,320 lineal feet of fiber optic cable in a right-of-way. The company has already begun construction despite not having a permit, says Bruce Maples, P.E. Director of Engineering.

"They started a while back and we got notified. Apparently they weren't aware of the permitting process for excavations. We shut them down. Once they realized they weren't in compliance they immediately went into trying to make sure they submitted plans and came into compliance," says Maples.

City Commissioners unanimously tabled the vote on a permit for Windstream KDL because they don't know much about the company's plans and want to do more research into the project.

"All we know is that they're tying between two existing facilities. One is the QWEST facility at Society at the AT&T building on Pine avenue and it's to tie the two pieces together is all we know," says Maples.

According to documents provided by Windstream KDL, the fiber optic cable project would bring $5,000.80 per year in revenue to the city.

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