Austell May Make Additional Cuts

Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins, left, chats with Commissioner WOody THompson

The City of Austell may be forced to cut its budget a second year Mayor Joe Jerkins told the Austell business Association in February.

“We cut the budget $700,000 last year and we will have to cut it again this year,” Mayor Jerkins said. The city’s budget is about $11 million.

Jerkins attributed some of the increased costs to health insurance. “Our health insurance has gone crazy,” he said, increasing 3.7 percent in the past year.

“We haven’t given a raise for five years but we haven’t had any furloughs or layoffs either.”

In a department by department rundown of activity over the past year, Jerkins said that the city’s Police Department is busy, although fines are down. The fire department responded to 876 calls and 25 structure fires and maintained a 3.83 minute response time. “That’s a good response time and it saves lives,” he said.

The city is still feeling the effects of the 2009 flood that put 700 houses underwater. The city has spent $1 million as part of a federal buyout of 23 homes and so far has removed 20 of them. “We can do another 61, if they provide another round of funding,” the mayor said.


“It’s still going to take couple more years to get it all cleaned up.” The mayor said. Another 90 homes are still in bad shape. City Judge Ken Nix is running title searches. Some of these houses it’s hard to find the owners. But there are problems in contacting the owners and mortgage holders.

In better news, the mayor said that $600,000 has been spent to revamp Legion Field, “to put it back better than before.” State and federal money along with donations from Lowe’s and Georgia Power helped rebuild the field.

A new senior center is being built by the County to replace the one at Legion Field. The city-owned Threadmill mall is 95 percent rented and the Austell Store is leased. The downtown streetscape project will be expanded to cover the north side of the tracks through a $510,000 grant.

Jerkins had high praise for the SPLOST programs that brought in $4.6 million. The city has ordered a $450,000 new fire truck that will arrive in August, along with five new police patrol cars. The city’s 911 system will also be upgraded. ” SPLOST is a good thing for us,” Jerkins said.

Jerkins also noted that Austell city tax rate of 3.12 bills is the lowest in the County. After the County deducts three mills on the Cobb tax bill for fire service, “Our tax bill is almost nothing,” he said.