Since 2016, Warner Robins Mayor and Council have approved spending roughly $7 million from the city's savings account.
Now, the account has just more than $11 million and Tuesday night the Council took steps to stop the bleeding.
In a five to one vote, Warner Robins Council passed an amendment changing the way the city saves money. Councilman Mike Davis was the only vote against.
Now, the city will have to have four months’ worth of funds to run the city in their savings account at all times. Chief Financial Officer Holly Gross says it costs about $3.3 million a month to run the city.
Councilman Tim Thomas says all the recent spending influenced the change.
“Well we were at four to five, well I'd say six months in reserves and we've dipped in it so much over the last several years. Now, to get back up to four months is not going to happen overnight. We're going to have to have a plan and it's going to take two years to do it so it'll be slow growth,” Thomas said after the meeting.
They've only $11.5 million in savings right now, not the required four months totaling about $13.2 million.
Which means, the city is now in violation of its own charter amendment. They have to come up with a plan and approve it, to save the rest of the money. The charter says they have 2 years to get back to the required funds.
Mayor Randy Toms says they've already started looking at ways to trim the budget.
“We have some positions, you know for example, that have been in the budget for a few years and not been filled. And so what you got to do is you got to start saying do we need that position? If we've had it budgeted for and not filled for three or four years than do we really need it?” Toms said after the meeting.
In 2016, the savings account had more than $18 million, but spending on parks, salary adjustments, and other projects have depleted the funds to a little more than $11 million.
In the last fiscal year, the city spent $650,000 to balance the budget, $2.5 million was set aside for recreation, and $300,000 was spent to renovate the city’s new municipal court building. Another $489,116 was spent on account corrections in 2016.
Most recently, the city used $1.6 million from reserves to pay for the pay scale salary adjustments and five new police officer positions.
As the Warner Robins election approaches, tensions from at least one council member appeared to bubble over on Tuesday night.
During council comments on Tuesday night, Councilman Mike Davis publicly criticized Chuck Shaheen over perceived attacks the last time Davis ran for reelection two years ago. Davis said he would not do the same to Shaheen while he runs for mayor.
Shaheen dismissed the criticism repeatedly.