Savannah City Council wraps up day 1 of budget retreat - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

City Council wraps up day 1 of budget retreat

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Savannah City Council members and city staff are meeting in Effingham County at a retreat - away from the city to go over the fiscal year 2014 budget.

Revenue overall is up more than 2 percent for the city of Savannah, which is a good thing in 2014, but they also see some areas where they need to improve. The city manager is proposing a tourism enforcement bureau to watch over the industry after seeing some of the city's spending and revenue projections.

Day one of the budget retreat saw the City Council brought up to speed on an economic picture full of uncertainty - both locally and nationally - but city staff say they numbers here are moving in the right direction.

The budget numbers presented were conservative estimates for revenue, but the immediate challenge they face is making up that $6 million reduction in the local option sales tax revenue lost from negotiations with Chatham County. A hiring freeze is still in place for non public safety positions. But the city next will pull an additional $4.4 million from its sales tax stabilization fund to help balance the budget and avoid raising property taxes.

"That fund was created specifically for this purpose so it was created when times were really good," said city spokesman Bret Bell. "We were experiencing double digit growth in our and we knew that wasn't going to last forever." He said they put some of that into a reserve account for when times are bad and now that times are bad, they are drawing from that account.

They also know they can't draw from that fund forever, so they must plan for the future. They also want to give employees a raise this year. Will they? Don Logana has more details on THE News.

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