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City of Bainbridge discusses operating budget for FY22

The Bainbridge City Council met at City Hall Tuesday evening to discuss the city’s operating budget for the fiscal year of 2022, with the total budget amounting to roughly $49 million. Highlights for the upcoming budget include the following: An increase in the General Fund Budget, from $12.6 million to $13.5 million; a 5.2% cost of living adjustment to the city pay plan in response to inflation; a proposed one-time $3,831.24 payment to all city employees, costing a total of $651,310, paid from the American Recovery Plan funds; the remaining ARP funds being used to fund the city’s fiber expansion project; $693,282 in T-SPLOST funded paving projects and $196,550 in LMIG funded paving projects, totaling $889,832 for paving about 10 miles; a 7% increase in Water, Sewer and Sanitation rates to account for inflation; a return of $195,532 to the General Fund reserves; projected positive net effects in Water and Sewer ($500,701), Gas Fund ($123,087), Solid Waste Fund ($406,614) and Telecommunications Fund ($35,000); funding for the Employee Healthcare Plan with no increase in cost to employees; and no capital expenditures.

Another item mentioned that evening was the 2020 Census results, which showed the City of Bainbridge grew by 14%, up to 14,468 people from 12,697 people in 2010. In addition, Decatur County’s population has also increased, up from 27,842 to 29,367.

“As you all know,” City Manager Chris Hobby said to the Council in the budget memo, “rural Georgia had been all but given up for dead by the state and it’s very satisfying that we have seen such robust growth.”

He spoke to the Post Searchlight later in an interview on the growth seen, saying, “We’ve added jobs in the community, and that attracts growth. As a percentage, Bainbridge grew more than any other city in southwest Georgia, other than Leesburg. Leesburg grew at a higher percentage than we did, but on raw numbers, no city grew more than we did in southwest Georgia.”

He continued to mention Taurus, A-1 Roof Trusses, Danimer Scientific and the various solar projects in the area as sources of growth. “Jobs attract people, and we’re seeing that… I think we’ll continue to see growth, at least through the next 24 months. And then as those industries get up and started and running, hopefully that all will be sustained. That’s what we’re counting on.”