AllOnGeorgia was contacted by more than one member of the Evans County community regarding some discrepancies in the budget and operations for the City of Claxton. Preliminary open records requests indicate that some trouble may be lingering. In FY 2014, the City spent $6,283,362 to run the city, but ended up operating negative of $1,603,049.
The most recent financial information available is the audit for FY2014, ending June 30, 2014, as the FY 2015 audit is not yet complete. Unfortunately, audit information is only as good as the information provided. Additionally, most things are funded by the General Fund) which means itemized expenses and an in-depth breakdown are not readily available.
Worth noting, Claxton has just over 2,300 people (according to 2013 numbers and covers just 1.6 square miles. It is the county seat for Evans County – which has a total population of almost 11,000. In evaluating ‘what is reasonable’ for expenses, these things should be considered.
One point of contention is the amount of money for employees. Consider the following:
In addition, the City of Claxton spent $276,353.46 on benefits for those employees. That means, not including payroll taxes, the City pays almost $1.1 million for employees in a town that serves 2,300 people. It also accounts for 17% of the entire budget.
Also of concern is that sanitation salaries are just $24,541, but the unitemized benefits allocated for sanitation employees reach $15,514.
By comparison, the City of Reidsville, which homes ~2,800 people, spends just over half of that. So, 500 more citizens and they spent $342,550.10 less.
Reidsville does use contract labor on an as-needed basis to avoid having to pay employee benefits and payroll taxes. They also contract with Tattnall County and other entities for services to reduce costs. For example, Reidsville spends $240,000 for sanitation, which is outsourced. Claxton does it in-house and spends $282,486.59.
That leaves the public with many questions that will be discussed as AllOnGeorgia moves forward with series:
- The full-time city administrator, plus at least one clerk, are said to have received $21,831.67 combined in annual salaries for FY2014. That seems rather low for two full-time employees – just over $10,000 each. Are they being compensated from other funds, and if so, why is that not itemized under their salary?
- The City of Claxton collects money from the gas line that runs from Claxton to Chatham County. The line collected almost $2 million in FY 2014, but shows a net income of $813.00.
- The City of Claxton has a city attorney, but that money is not indicated on the expenditure sheet. How is the City Attorney being paid? Are there other salaries unaccounted for?
Most importantly, Claxton taxpayers getting the most out of their government?