Politics Athens City Council prepares 2014 budget By Alexandra Newman Posted on November 26, 2013 4 min read 0 0 456 City Council met on Monday night to discuss the first draft of the upcoming year’s budget in line with the current 2013 budget. The possible new budget estimates the city’s available funds to be around $34 million, which is very similar to the 2013 budget. The budget in 2011 was around $30 million. The increase is due to extra grants the city has received. “Our goal is to get this budget finalized so we can bring it up as a first reading next week and push it on through December so it’s finalized for the start of the new year,” At-Large Rep. Chris Knisley said. As Athens City Mayor Paul Wiehl did a quick run down, he made sure to mention that not every department is going to get the money they want. “I know we are going to have to whittle this (the budget) down and fine tune this and I’m sure we’ve made some mistakes along the way,” Wiehl said. The amounts of money allotted to city services and projects were discussed, including the recently announced Richland Avenue revitalization project, which is estimated to start sometime next year. “A lot of the money for [Richland Ave.] will come out of the city general fund, but grants will also help with this,” Knisley said. Methods of keeping community members informed were also heavily discussed. Second Ward Rep. Jeffrey Risner suggested they make a series of colorful pie graphs to post on the city website which will break down where all the money comes from and where it all goes. “I personally get a lot of questions from people in my neighborhood about where money is going,” Risner said. Other city council members commented on how everyone takes in information differently and agreed simplifying the information will have a greater impact. “The people should keep an eye out and pay attention to where their money is going,” Fourth Ward Rep. Chris Fahl said. The city has only had their income tax rise once since the 1980s. The city has been lucky with different public works projects and grants it received to keep this cost down for residents. They worry how long this will continue though because the tax revenue is planned to be pretty flat next year. “A lot of small things are coming at us, but I am confident everything will work out,” Wiehl said in reference to several upcoming projects, one being the replacement of the elevators in the city parking garage.