CITY COUNCIL APPROVES BUDGET FOR 2016

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During regular session, the City Council unanimously voted to approve the budget for the 2016 fiscal year. Approved at $131,783,596, the structurally balanced budget includes no revenues from property taxes within its funding.

In lieu of property taxes, margins above the cost of providing services are transferred from the City’s utility funds to general government. For FY 2016, the amount of the transfers will be approximately $10 million, an increase of approximately $480,000. These transfers are equivalent to levying about 15.12 mills of property tax.

“We are in a unique position in Thomasville, with regard to our budget,” said City Manager/Utilities Superintendent Steve Sykes. “Through efficient operation and prudent policy-setting on the part of the City Council, we are able to operate without any dependence on property taxes.”

The basically flat budget includes $24.5 million in capital projects. These projects include $5.4 million for a runway extension, taxiway extension and additional hangar space at Thomasville Regional Airport; $6.3 million in GEFA projects which serve to improve water and wastewater infrastructure; and $900,000 for the Multi-Use Trail.

Assistant Utilities Superintendent Don Atkinson stated that City of Thomasville employees work very diligently to increase efficiency and reduce costs, which helps to enable the City of Thomasville to offer very competitive rates to customers.

“We pride ourselves on our competitive rate structure, which places the City of Thomasville among some of the lowest utility rates in the state of Georgia,” he said. “However, due to increased costs in distribution, some adjustments in water and wastewater rates were necessary this year.”

Water and wastewater rates have been adjusted by approximately five percent, or, for the average customer, approximately $1.17 and $1.89 each month, respectively.

Additionally, CNS Television subscriptions will be adjusted by approximately five percent and will include an additional $2.33 per month in retransmission costs. This means that CNS Television customers will see an increase of approximately $3.11 on their monthly bill.

“Due to the renegotiation of certain programming contracts, we have seen some shocking increases in the cost to provide CNS’ Digital Television programming,” said Sheryl Sealy, director of marketing for CNS and City of Thomasville.

“Unlike our traditional utility services, television rates are driven by contracts which are periodically negotiated,” Sealy said.

“Networks impose carriage requirements that require cable systems like CNS to carry and pay for additional channels in order to retain more popular channels that our customers value. This, together with the rising cost of local broadcast channels and regional sports access, impacts our programming costs and the rates we must charge our subscribers,” she added.

“While we have found it necessary to adjust the rates for CNS Television, our rates continue to be competitive, CNS Telephone and Internet rates will not be adjusted,” said Sealy. CNS Internet will, however, introduce new tiers of Internet access for residential customers: 50 Mbps, 110 Mbps and 150 Mbps. “The new tiers are designed to offer residential Internet customers the option to increase their service speed by up to 400 times current residential speeds,” said Sealy. “For households where there is heavy streaming or gaming, or multiple, simultaneous Internet users online, a faster Internet tier may help improve the Internet experience of our customers.”

“How customers use the Internet has changed dramatically in the last five years,” said Sealy. “It is not uncommon in a household to have two people streaming two different movies while others are online playing games or surfing the Web. Our goal in offering these new tiers was to give our customers a way to have a faster Internet experience that fits the needs of their family.”

There are also new business tiers that offer a faster upstream and downstream experience, which will work well for businesses that must back up or send large amounts of information daily. These new tiers will offer commercial customers the additional choice of 50 Mbps up/20 Mbps down or 110 Mbps up/20 Mbps down.

While CNS Television rates have been adjusted, a new economy tier has been created for cable television, Basic Plus.

“The purpose of the Basic Plus tier is to give our customers an option between our Broadcast Basic and Super Basic Tiers. We have many customers at the Broadcast Basic level who would like to have a few additional channels, so this is perfect for those customers,” said Sealy.

Basic Plus will also include access to Watch TV Everywhere for those channels included in the cable package. WTVE is a no charge, value-added service that’s included with all television packages and allows CNS Television customers to access their programming from anywhere and from any Internet-capable device.

“Creating Basic Plus and introducing the new tiers of Internet service are just some of the ways we are trying to help our customers manage their entertainment budgets more effectively,” Sealy said. “Whether they chose to adjust their television package or increase their Internet speed to stream more video, we have a solution to fit most anyone’s needs.”

For more information about how you can help keep TV costs low, visit www.tvonmyside.com