ALPHARETTA, Ga. — The Alpharetta City Council was scheduled to give its final approval this week on a $141 million spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

The proposed 2020 budget, which goes into effect July 1, calls for $12 million in increased spending over last year. Part of that increase – about $7 million – will go to capital expenditures, one-time expenses like road improvements, bridges, vehicles and land purchases. A large portion of the money earmarked for these capital expenses will come through the special transportation sales tax which county voters passed in 2016.

City officials passed the proposed budget on its first reading May 28. That vote came despite officials having no clear picture yet of how much the city expects to receive in property tax revenue. The city’s property values are set by the Fulton County Assessor’s Office, which has yet to release the abstract.

Nevertheless, City Council members have fixed the tax rate on property at 5.75 mills, a level maintained for the past 12 years. One mill generates $1 in revenue for every $1,000 in a property’s taxable value. 

Thanks to a new floating homestead exemption enacted last year, this means local homeowners are likely to see a slight decrease in their property tax bill from the city. The new exemption rolls back owner-occupied home values to 2017 levels.

City officials say the new exemption will mean a decrease in property tax revenues to the city of almost $600,000, a decline of about 2.4 percent from last year.

However, officials point out they expect growth in revenues from other sources, such as licensing and franchise fees, insurance premium taxes and charges for services.

Another key funding source is the special transportation sales tax, now in its third year. This year, the city expects to receive about $16.3 million thanks to the tax, which will be applied to major road projects approved by voters when the tax was passed in 2016.

The 2020 budget includes the addition of 8.5 full-time-equivalent employees, bringing the total to 452.

Of note in this year’s budget, city officials eliminated funding for fees and consulting work to the Georgia Municipal Association after that organization lobbied this year for passage of a telecom bill the city opposed. The $29,000 in funding will now be used for local capital projects.

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