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Gainesville City Council reviews goals, priorities
Planning, financing and human resources discussed during work session
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City Manager Kip Padgett said he is asking departments to hold the line on funding requests for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Finance Director Melody Marlowe said revenues may tick up slightly, but cautioned it is still too early to tell where exactly they will settle.

The city’s general fund budget for the current fiscal year is about $30.3 million.

Padgett said he would receive specific funding requests from all departments in the coming weeks.

In a tone both serious and joking at the same time, Mayor Danny Dunagan told department heads, “If y’all want any extra money ... no.”

Community development

Following a year that saw a record number of home permits issued, as well as an increase in commercial building permits, the community development department is focused on both spurring and managing growth.

The department is expected to finish a downtown master plan this year, and continues to strengthen code enforcement.

Enforcement officers addressed more than 2,000 ordinance violations in the last year.

Goals going forward include implementing and expanding a neighborhood sidewalk improvement plan, as well as establishing a sidewalk development fund.

Planning officials also expect to use a $1 million grant to build five affordable homes on land between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Mill Street.

The community development department’s current fiscal year budget is $1.1 million.

Administrative services department

Encompassing finance, information technology and the municipal court, the administrative services department is continuing to focus on improving efficiency, reducing costs and making reports more accessible to the public.

For example, the city’s first “popular annual financial report” has been released. It details the city’s revenues, expenses and other financial information in a more digestible way. It’s like accounting for laymen.

The department is also working to increase the number of electronic tickets and citations processed by the municipal court.

Over the next year or more, the department has prioritized reviewing and rewriting the city’s taxi ordinance, similarly to what was done recently with the alcohol ordinance, to better reflect changes in that industry.

The department is also developing an internal communications system, or Intranet, to better share information, coordinate the city’s operating systems and ensure recordkeeping accuracy. 

The administrative services department’s current fiscal year budget is $2.24 million.

Human resources

The city’s human resources division intends to have a pay study completed by April that might help address inadequate wages for some employees, particularly in local public safety agencies.

The study is part of a larger initiative to recruit good employees, which includes streamlining the application and hiring process.

But retaining a strong workforce explains the other goals the department is focused on, including reducing on-the-job accidents, updating personnel policies and investing in training programs.

The department recently added or amended several aspects of its employee conduct standards, including a nepotism/non-fraternization policy, a dress code and grooming policy, and a policy regarding violence in the workplace.

The human resources department’s current fiscal year budget is $614,000.

More to come

City officials said they will review goals and priorities for the public utilities and parks departments in two weeks, as well as for the Community Service Center.