The Johns Creek City Council this week approved 6-1 a $52 million balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2013. Council member Brad Raffensperger was the lone dissenter admidst questions surrounding staff raises and benefits.
During the Monday work session preceding a public budget hearing and the council's vote, Raffensperger pointed out that while the budget remained flat from the previous year's, he calculated that staff salary and benefit increases went up by more than $600,000. "I'm not concerned about salaries, but benefits," he said. "How do we stack up" to other cities?
City Manager John Kachmar said the increases actually total in the $400,000 range, and that staff efficiency, the ratio of staff to citizens, and a low turnover rate justified the increase.
"I would love to see a comparison to other cities," Raffensperger countered.
During the public hearing, resident Major Thompson cautioned, "I'm impressed with what a good job you continue to do," but added that the council should keep an "eye on overhead" and keep it "minimized," pointing to other cities that cannot pay for employee retirement benefits.
Citizen Stephanie Endres echoed the concern over staff pay, saying that an increase in those costs signaled a decrease in services. Added resident Mark Endres, "Just because a budget is balanced . . . does not mean it is sound."
Council member Randall Johnson said he supported council member Ivan Figueroa's motion to approve the budget, pointing to Johns Creek having one of the lowest millage rates in Georgia, as well as staff productivity.
See the PDFs accompanying this article for budget overview and breakdown.