WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — The City of Warner Robins decided on its budget plan for 2023. The $143 million budget will help with the city's expansion and growth, and half of that will go towards public safety -- more than $27 million, specifically to fire and law enforcement.
Mayor LaRhonda Patrick says the focus for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget is people and public safety. She says the annual funds include a 10% increase for city employees.
"We do not foresee any loss of service or any loss of quality when it comes to the City of Warner Robins," Patrick said.
Patrick says any inflation any household is seeing the city is seeing as well.
"It was very challenging to approach it from that technical standpoint, considering those inflation prices, but still make it so we are not raising taxes at the city level," Patrick said.
Mayor Patrick says they made the decisions about raises with inflation in mind. She says employees cannot live comfortably with the salaries from the past year due to the changing economy.
"We wanted to make sure our employees were not having to struggle with the inflation, dealing with the inflation for their households," Patrick said.
Even with the 10% increase for city employees, Councilman Keith Lauritsen says he doesn't think salaries are where they need to be.
"We already have the best benefits that you could offer, but sometimes that doesn't always translate well when you're looking at a salary," Lauritsen said.
Police and fire departments also received recruitment and retention bonuses of $4,000, which will be disbursed over a three-year period.
"We support our police department. We are a team, we are a family," Patrick said.
The 2023 budget added close to $5 million towards new initiatives. That includes more than $2 million in technology improvements to upgrade systems, and expand community outreach, and more than $1 million toward improved customer service projects, like strengthening code enforcement, and reviewing entry fees to parks & rec facilities.
"With where there was the customer service initiatives, which I think will have a huge impact on our community, just enjoying being a citizen of Warner Robins," Lauritsen said.
The remaining resources will largely go toward new equipment needs across the city with a portion set aside for special annual community events. Some of those events include a Juneteenth celebration, and the Christmas parade.