Columbus is one of the five largest cities in Georgia. The city merged governments with Muscogee County in 1971 and became the first of its kind in Georgia (and one of only 16 in the U.S. at the time). It is the principal city of the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area, which, in 2009, had an estimated population of 292,795. It joins with the Auburn, Alabama metropolitan area to form the Columbus, Georgia-Auburn, Alabama Combined Statistical Area, which, in 2009, had an estimated population of 450,467. It is the third largest city and fourth largest metropolitan area in the state.
Evaluation of website
|Transparency grading process|
- Main article: Evaluation of Georgia city websites
- The current budget is published.
- Audit reports are published.
- Sales tax information is provided.
- The names and contact information for all administrative officials are provided.
- The names and contact information for all city council members are provided.
- Information on Building permits and zoning is provided.
- City council meeting schedules and video of meetings are provided.
- Information on making public records requests is not available.
- The county does not disclose whether it belongs to government sector lobbying associations.
- There is no information on contracts.
The proposed FY2012 budget for Columbus, at $255 million, would cut about 8.66 percent, or more than $24 million, from what was spent in 2011. The complete proposal, coming in at 212 pages, can be viewed online.
The city of Columbus applied for $5 million in stimulus funds (prior to the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) in 2009, to build facilities to attract National Cash Register (NCR), a major employer located in Ohio at the time. This, along with NCR's 2009 announcement that facilities would move to several Georgia cities, sparked calls for an investigation into the appropriation. The U.S. Department of Commerce ultimately rejected Columbus' request for the money.
|Mayor||Teresa Tomlinson||unknown||2010||Teresa Tomlinson on Facebook|
|Councilmember Dist. 1||Jerry "Pops" Barnes||unknown||2014||Jerry "Pops" Barnes on Facebook|
|Councilmember Dist. 2||Glenn Davis||unknown||2012||Glenn Davis on Facebook|
|Councilmember Dist. 3||Bruce Huff||unknown||2014||Bruce Huff website|
|Councilmember Dist. 4||Evelyn Turner Pughemail@example.com|
|Councilmember Dist. 5||Mike Bakerfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Councilmember Dist. 6||Gary Allenemail@example.com|
|Councilmember Dist. 7||Evelyn "Mimi" Woodson||unknown||2014||Evelyn "Mimi" Woodson website|
|Councilmember Dist. 8||C.E. "Red" McDanielfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Councilmember Post 9 At-Large||Judy Thomas||unknown||2014||Judy Thomas on Facebook|
|Councilmember Post 10 At-Large||Berry "Skip" Hendersonemail@example.com|
|City Manager||Isaiah Hugley||unknown|
|Deputy City Manager||Lisa Goodwin||unknown|
|Deputy City Manager||David Arrington||unknown|
|Assistant to the City Manager/311 Citizens Service Center Manager||Liz Turner||unknown|
|Tax Commissioner||Lula Huff||unknown|
|Director, Board of Tax Assessors||Betty Middleton||unknown|
|Internal Auditor||John Redmond||unknown|
|Director of Finance||Pamela Hodge||unknown|
See also: Georgia state government salary
See also: Georgia public pensions
The General Government Pension Plan is a Defined Benefit Pension Plan that is based on a formula that uses age, service and salary. An employee becomes eligible to participate in the Pension Plan effective on his/her date of employment. The City contributes 100% in the Pension Plan for the employee. This same plan is available to Public Safety employees.
Columbus also offers Deferred Compensation, under IRS Code 457, to employees. This is a tax-deferred supplemental retirement program that allows public employees to contribute a portion of their salary, before federal and state taxes, to a retirement account.
A full list of employee benefits is found on the Human Resources website.
On May 16, 2011, Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson requested that the county government assess the economic feasibility of combining the Muscogee County Sheriff’s and Marshal’s departments.. The sheriff's office is affiliated with the state and superior courts in Georgia, while the marshal's office serves the municipal court in Columbus. Twenty-five Georgia counties have marshal's offices, though the Muscogee County has police powers specific to that office unlike other marshal's offices. The Ledger-Enquirer reported that Marshal Greg Countryman and Sheriff John Darr agree that studying consolidation would be a good idea, though they differ on whether consolidation should ultimately take place. The study could cost the city about $60,000 to $70,000.
See also: Georgia government sector lobbying
No records for lobbyists affiliated with Columbus or Muscogee County could be found at OpenSecrets.org or at the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission website.
Transparency & public records
The Columbus website, http://www.columbusga.org/, received a C- from Sunshine Review for transparency. No information for obtaining public records or filing public information requests is available.
Ad valorem tax, more commonly known as property or millage tax, is a large source of revenue for local government in Georgia. The basis for ad valorem taxation is the fair market value of the property which is established as of January 1 of each year. The tax is levied on the assessed value of the property which, by law, is established at 40% of fair market value. The amount of tax is determined by the tax rate (mill rate) levied by City Council (one mill is equal to $1.00 for each $1,000 of assessed value, or .001). Tax exemption information is found on the Columbus Tax Assessor website.
- Columbus - Muscogee County Official website
- Columbus - Muscogee County on E-Reference
- Muskogee County School District
- Columbus - Muscogee County on NACO
- Muscogee County Free Public Records Directory
- Muscogee County on Georgia.gov
- Muscogee County on Epodunk
- Sales Tax
- City Council
- Planning and zoning
- Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, May 1, 2011 "Mayor’s proposed 2012 budget starts the horse trading"
- WRBL News, May 3, 2011, "Columbus council members react to proposed budget"
- Recommended Budget FY2012
- Vandalla Drummer News, July 16, 2009 "Turner calls for investigation into use of stimulus funds in NCR deal"
- Ledger-Enquirer, Aug. 8, 2009, Columbus denied $5.5 million for NCR plant"
- Employee Benefits
- Ledger-Enquirer, May 17, 2011, "Columbus mayor seeks study of consolidating Muscogee Marshal's and Sheriff's departments"