Alpharetta City Council hosts public hearing on FY 2021 budget June 15, 22

Alpharetta City Hall building
Residents can voice concerns or opinions about the city's fiscal year 2020-21 budget during the public hearing portion of the Alpharetta City Council meetings June 15 and June 22. (Kara McIntyre/Community Impact Newspaper)

Residents can voice concerns or opinions about the city's fiscal year 2020-21 budget during the public hearing portion of the Alpharetta City Council meetings June 15 and June 22. (Kara McIntyre/Community Impact Newspaper)

Residents have an opportunity to share their comments on the city of Alpharetta's fiscal year 2020-21 budget at the next two council meetings—June 15 and 22—and vocalize concerns or opinions about the budget to council members and Mayor Jim Gilvin. The proposed $145 million operating and capital budget for FY 2020-21, which runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, was initially discussed at the council retreat in January; however, the budget changed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the city's finances.

The budget calls for no property tax increase for residents, maintaining the city's millage rate of 5.75 mills for FY 2020-21 despite the anticipated revenue losses due to the pandemic. The mayor and council also set aside $1.1 million as a cushion for revenue losses on top of $15 million still in the city's reserves in case of emergencies.

In April, estimates for FY 2020-21 showed a $1.6 million loss in the local option sales tax revenue and a 27% loss in hotel/motel tax revenue—a $918,750 loss, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. Along with other revenue losses, projections showed a $3.38 million shortfall budget in FY 2020-21, resulting in a hiring freeze and removal of 2020 merit raises for city employees, which were scheduled for April 2020.

The city has $276,000 allocated for three targeted operational initiatives in FY 2020-21 until more economic impacts are clear, which Gilvin outlined in the proposed budget as follows:

  • performance-based merit program in April 2021: $250,000

  • information technology software replacement: $26,000

  • Eastside Community Center programs: $40,000 in revenue/$40,000 in expenses


The proposed budget included 13 other operating initiatives not recommended for funding in FY 2020-21—including the It's My Town mobile app, purchase of one Quint Apparatus fire truck, several full-time employee positions and other initiatives—with a net total of $1 million not recommended for funding.

In terms of capital investments, the city has $12.67 million in recommended capital initiatives proposed for FY 2020-21, most of which are recurring payments—such as road maintenance, technology replacements, park enhancements, traffic-control equipment purchases and landscape improvements—while others are general initiatives such as design services for public works and the parks department.


The city also has $4 million allocated in Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds for the Windward Parkway eastbound and westbound lane widenings, which has actually decreased to $1.8 million total after construction bids came in, Gilvin said at the June 1 council meeting. TSPLOST funds have to be used on projects approved in the 2016 sales tax referendum.

A total of $21.72 million in capital initiatives were not recommended for funding in FY 2020-21. Some of the capital initiatives not recommended for funding include:

  • pedestrian safety improvements throughout city: $225,000

  • midblock crosswalks: $100,000

  • 92 Milton Avenue midblock crossing: $280,000

  • roundabout studies: $125,000

  • Dryden Road extension: $300,000

  • major intersection improvements: $50,000

  • Cumming Street at Henderson Parkway roundabout design: $200,000

  • Mayfield Road at Canton Street and at Providence Road roundabout designs: $400,000 (total)

  • Windward Parkway at Clubhouse Drive roundabout design: $300,000

  • Southlake Drive traffic-calming design: $350,000

  • Marjean Way extension design: $500,000

  • Wills Road widening design and right of way: $200,000

  • Waters Road traffic-calming design: $300,000

  • Kimball Bridge Road improvements design: $250,000

  • Douglas Road traffic-calming design without roundabout: $50,000

  • Douglas Road traffic-calming design with roundabout: $150,000

  • Haynes Bridge Road lighting: $460,000

  • Alpha Loop: $9 million

  • Windward Parkway pedestrian bridges design: $250,000

  • Waters Road sidewalk improvements right of way: $20,000

  • Wills Park master plan improvements: $970,000

  • Wills Park Equestrian Center master plan buildout: $4.83 million

  • historic preservation initiative: $85,000


At the June 1 council meeting, council members approved provisions of Gilvin's initial proposed budget in a 4-3 vote with Gilvin and Council Members John Hipes and Dan Merkel voting in opposition. The approved provisions, presented by Council Member Jason Binder included an additional $620,000 in cuts to the budget in various categories including additional monies added to two capital initiatives.

Additionally, Gilvin proposed a one-time employee bonus—which would total $620,000—in lieu of the pay raises that were canceled in April due to COVID-19. Binder said his proposal includes money for pay raises, but it would not be awarded for several months until the economic picture is more clear, he said June 1.

Binder proposed the following changes, which were approved and will be up for discussion on the council agenda June 15:

Maintenance and operations reductions, totaling $397,309:


  • $253,759 from the recreation, parks & cultural services department;

  • $30,750 from general government;

  • $100,000 from legal; and

  • $12,800 from mayor and council.


Changes in capital initiatives, totaling $220,000:

Reductions


  • $50,000 reduction to sidewalk maintenance and repair;

  • $30,000 reduction to storm and drainage maintenance;

  • $10,000 reduction to stormwater inspections;

  • $100,000 reduction to Big Creek Greenway repair and maintenance;

  • $20,000 reduction to parks repair;

  • $30,000 reduction to park enhancements; and

  • $12,500 reduction to public arts programs.


Additions


  • $12,500 for historic preservation, specifically for the Stories Project

  • $20,000 for Flock license plate readers for the police department


City Council meets June 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Alpharetta City Hall, 2 Park Plaza, Alpharetta.
By Kara McIntyre
Kara started with Community Impact Newspaper as the summer intern for the south Houston office in June 2018 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She became the reporter for north Houston's Tomball/Magnolia edition in September 2018, moving to Alpharetta in January 2020 after a promotion to be the editor of the Alpharetta/Milton edition, which is Community Impact's first market in Georgia.