MOULTRIE — Several people came before the Moultrie City Council Tuesday to discuss their displeasure with a proposed public safety fee. The council did come up with a conclusion, but it was not until after a lot of discussion.

The council met to decide on its proposed budget for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Included in that budget was a $4 public safety fee added to utility bills to help the Moultrie Fire Department and Moultrie Police Department.

Several residents, however, said the additional $4 would be a burden on them. Barbara Jelks said she knows public safety is very important, but residents can’t take any more increases to their utility bills.

To help officers and firefighters, Jelks said the council needs to reconsider ways to get the money to help with public safety. This city is made up of many senior citizens and working poor, she said and they will be the most affected with the additional $4 to their utility bills.

“To ask people to pay an additional $4 will really hurt people,” Jelks said.

Other residents who came forward shared similar opinions, saying having officers is important but they cannot afford to pay the extra $4 per month.

“Don’t dig in the pockets of those that can’t afford to give it,” Johnny Wilson said.

Councilman Daniel Dunn told those in attendance the council is trying to save money any way it can while trying to add services.

“I know we have concerned citizens,” Dunn said, “but it is not our intent to raise taxes. We’re trying to add to your services.”

After hearing from all of the residents and getting through some other issues, the council came to the time to accept the proposed budget. Councilman George Walker, however, requested the proposed public safety fee be re-examined to see if there are other alternatives to get the money.

City Manager Mike Scott said the council could accept the proposed budget without the public safety fee included in it.

Councilman Ronald Wilson said the city has needed to make the additions to the police department for too long. Despite that, there has to be another way for the city to get the money without putting a greater burden on its residents.

“We should have looked at this a long time ago,” Wilson said. “There are other areas we need to look at.”

Dunn and Wilson got into a discussion over the matter, with Dunn saying the money would come from the residents one way or another. Wilson suggested the city look at other ways, such as something similar to SPLOST, to get the money.

After all of the discussion, the council decided to approve the 2008-2009 fiscal year budget pending further discussion on the public safety fee. Included in the budget was the use of rollout garbage cans to replace the current in-ground system, which Scott said will save more than $300,000 over a six-year period.

Other issues brought before the council included:

• Denise Bell discussed the Department of Community Affairs Communities of Opportunity program. The council voted to be included in the program.

• Holding a third and final reading and setting the 2008 millage rate at 10.902 mills.

• A public hearing for an alcoholic beverage license was removed from the agenda.

• Approving a first and second reading to amend the application for license, submission and rules applicable sections of the Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance.

• Approving two requests from the Traffic, Paving and Cemetery Committee.

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