The Brookhaven mayor and City Council got their first public look Oct. 9 at the city’s proposed 2019 budget totaling $47.5 million. Last year’s budget was approved at $40.7 million.
General fund revenues that cover day-to-day operations of the city total $27.7 million, City Manager Christian Sigman explained. Other revenue sources include an estimated $3.6 million in hotel-motel taxes, more than $3 million in federal and state grants and new this year is an estimated $7.26 million in special local option sales tax.
No funding is included in the proposed budget for any parks master plans projects, Sigman said. Last year’s approval of the DeKalb County SPLOST eliminated the city’s homestead option sale tax which was the primary funding source for major parks projects, he said.
The City Council in July approved $40 million in parks master plan projects to be put on a parks bond referendum. The parks bond is on the Nov. 6 ballot. If approved by voters, the parks bond would cover the cost of about half of the city’s parks master plans and debt would be paid off over 30 years.
Councilmember John Park raised a question about only $300,000 being allocated for three sidewalks in the proposed budget. He said he has noticed a strong demand for sidewalks from residents after they saw this year the many sidewalks constructed as part of a new comprehensive sidewalk plan.
Public Works is coming under budget on some 2018 capital projects and money left over from those projects could be put toward sidewalks, Park suggested.
The $300,000 only pays for about 2,000 linear feet of new sidewalks, a disappointing amount compared to more than two miles of sidewalks installed this year, Councilmember Linley Jones said. But as the city continues to construct new sidewalks, Jones said it was also time for a comprehensive survey of existing sidewalks to that need repair.
Affordable housing is also a hot topic in Brookhaven and Sigman said he is recommending the city review the city’s Senior Property Tax Exemption if the real property digest growth exceeds 2019 projections to find ways to allow seniors to age in place.
Proposed departmental budgets include Police at $8.98 million, Public Works at $1.56 million, Parks and Recreation at $3.2 million and Community Development at $3.38 million.
Public hearings for the proposed budget are set for Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. during City Council meetings at City Hall. The council is slated to vote on the proposed budget Nov. 13.
The entire proposed budget can be reviewed at www.BrookhavenGA.gov/finance/page/2019-proposed-budget.