Brookhaven City Council members are expected to vote Nov. 9 on the city’s proposed $36.99 million budget for 2017, an increase of $2.8 million over the city’s revised 2016 budget.
The council held its first public hearing on the budget on Oct. 25. No comments were made by members of the public.
Highlights for the budget proposed by City Manager Christian Sigman include funding a 3 percent merit raise for city employees; a $2.5 million paving budget finance with Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) and state funding; another $2.5 million for implementation of the parks master plan; and an increase to the police department budget of $145,900 to hire three officers to establish a dedicated traffic unit.
The city’s 2.74 millage rate remains the same, the lowest in DeKalb County. The reserve is projected at $5.5 million, or 26.4 percent the general fund expenditures.
The proposed $6.9 million police budget also includes two enhancements to officer benefits as a way to attract and retain officers. One is a change in housing allowance to make the monthly $400 housing allowance for living within the city limits permanent rather than phasing it out after four years of living in the city. The second is participation in the Peace Officers’ Annuity & Benefits Fund of Georgia at a cost of $18,000 a year to cover all officers. The state program provides a source of revenue to an officer’s family in the event of his or her death.
Another $559,770 from the HOST Special Revenue fund will be used to buy fixed cameras and license plate readers, the start-up costs for the dedicated traffic unit, a K-9 officer and a mobile speed trailer. The police department has 68 sworn officers, 11 non-sworn and four part-time employees.
The proposed budget also includes $150,000 for tourism, including funding the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Founded by former Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams in 2015, the two-day festival takes place in the spring at Blackburn Park. The event was not included in the approved 2016 budget but was added during the mid-year review. Revenues for this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival totaled $73,219 while expenses totaled $126,925.
Funding the fest is part of the of proposal made by the city manager’s office after City Council asked recently for a special events policy for the use of city facilities, streets and parks. During the drafting of the policy, the Cherry Blossom Festival was designated a signature event.
“The 2017 funding level of $150,000 supports the 2017 Cherry Blossom Festival. This event is anticipated to generate $100,000 in revenue for a net fiscal impact of $50,000,” according to the proposed budget. Plans are for the fest to be managed by a non-profit Cherry Blossom organization with assistance from the city’s Parks and Recreation and other departments.
The offices of mayor and City Council have a proposed budget of $218,262, down more than 26 percent, or nearly $78,000, from 2016’s budget of $296,163. This amount includes $20,000 to be used toward the 2017 required charter review process.
The $2.5 million proposed for Parks and Recreation spending includes $1.5 million for the Blackburn Park master site plan and $1 million for other capital projects that include:
- Ashford Park: tricycle track around the playground, construction of a cookout patio, tennis court seating area, loop trail;
- Georgian Hills: adventure play area, concrete multi-use walkway, outdoor half-court basketball court;
- Fernwood Park: Demoliton and removal of existing wood bridge and timber sidewalk and rebuilding existing bridge into a 10-foot wide boardwalk;
- Murphey Candler Park: parking improvements;
- Osborne Park: removing invasive plant material;
- Lynwood Park: parking space expansion.
The budget maintains a 25 percent fund balance as part of City Council policy.
Residents can review the complete 148-page budget at brookhavenga.gov/city-departments/finance/2017-proposed-budget and can also via email at email@example.com.