ROSWELL, Ga. — The city’s initial budget for Fiscal Year 2020 has passed its first reading with a handful of additions and one deletion.

The City Council unanimously passed the $152.4 million budget, an increase of 5.8 percent from last year’s budget, at the May 13 meeting. Additions and deletions are not final and may change at the second budget reading. 

Five additions were approved — $68,000 for the Roswell Arts Fund and $17,500 for four Historic Roswell Beautification projects. The projects include Elizabeth Way cleanup, Historic District streetscape improvements and holiday decorations.  

The sole deletion, removal of $82,000 from road resurfacing funds, caused some debate at the meeting. The original FY2020 budget called for $1.2 million for citywide road resurfacing and reconstruction. 

Instead of removing funds, Mayor Lori Henry said the City Council should be adding funds into road resurfacing.

“Road resurfacing and sidewalks are the two big number one issues in the City of Roswell,” Henry said. “We are on a 20-year cycle, and if we start not funding it fully, we will drop behind.”

Councilman Mike Palermo said he worries that if road resurfacing is underfunded, it could cause additional, preventable problems in the future. 

The city would need to allocate $1.8 million a year to road resurfacing in order to fully fund it on the 20-year schedule, said Director of Finance Ryan Luckett. 

Councilwoman Marie Willsey said staff recommended $900,000 for road resurfacing during initial budget meetings this year, and even with the deletion, funds would still total over one million.

The deletion was approved unanimously.

In the city’s overall FY2020 budget, $28.5 million is budgeted for capital projects. The lion’s share — nearly $17 million — is committed to projects funded through the local transportation sales tax. The city also calls for allocating $6.2 million for maintenance capital and another $5.4 million for one-time capital projects. 

Some of the budget highlights include funding for 14 new positions in the City of Roswell, bringing the city’s total full-time staff to 625, as well as a 3 percent, merit-based wage increase for employees. Eleven of the new positions would be created by moving the city’s building inspection and code enforcement services from contract to in-house, a move that is anticipated to save the city $279,000.

Some of the proposed infrastructure and asset improvements include $155,000 for Mimosa Hall maintenance, $65,000 to replace seats at the Cultural Arts Center, $806,000 to improve sidewalk connectivity and $1.5 million for replacement of the Willeo Road Bridge.

The proposed tax rate is not expected to increase for the 2020 fiscal year and will remain at 4.955 mills. One mill brings in $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value on a property.

Property tax revenues are expected to dip to $27.8 million, down about $1 million from last year. 

The revenues are based on the assumption that the millage rate remains the same and the updated assessments covered under the new floating homestead exemption. 

Additions and deletions to the budget may change at the second reading, which is scheduled for the next City Council meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28.

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