ROSWELL, Ga. — After some debate among its members, the Roswell City Council passed the final version of its 2020 budget.

Council members Matt Judy and Mike Palermo were not at the meeting. 

The budget was passed on May 28 in two different votes — one to pass the $152.4 million budget with a handful of additions and one deletion, and the second to repurpose auto rental excise tax funds.

Five additions were approved — $45,000 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 second budget reading initially included a $62,000 deletion from the city’s road resurfacing and reconstruction funds, which generated some controversy. 

It was an issue that dominated the conversation at the first budget reading May 13, when the council passed an $81,000 deletion from road resurfacing and reconstruction. 

“Two of the biggest items that we deal with on a regular basis in the City of Roswell are sidewalks and potholes, and road resurfacing,” said Mayor Lori Henry at the May 28 meeting. “I don’t want to get behind on that. Right now, we’re on a 20-year cycle of road resurfacing. If we don’t fund that completely, we will drop further behind.”

Instead, the initial deletion was nixed in favor of a $35,000 reduction from the Citywide Facilities Maintenance Project and a $28,000 increase in the General Fund to fund the additions. Councilman Sean Groer said he hopes the city can restore the money taken from those funds during the mid-year budget process. 

Additional funding for the Roswell Arts Fund was also cut by $23,000 between the first and second budget readings. But, Henry said, the city is still funding the organization with $225,000. 

“We’re not pulling funding,” Henry said. “I am just asking that Council does not increase those partner organization budgets since we are asking our department heads not to increase their budgets.”

In the city’s overall FY 2020 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. 

The budget was passed 3-1 with Councilman Marcelo Zapata opposed.

The proposal to repurpose $475,000 in auto rental excise tax funds would have had a net-zero impact on the budget and was proposed by Zapata. The funds would have been repurposed from promotion of industry, trade and commerce to recreational facilities.

Zapata’s motion failed due to lack of a second, and the proposal was ultimately denied 3-1 with Zapata opposed.

The millage rate has not yet been adopted as it is contingent upon the city receiving the preliminary tax digest from Fulton County, said Budget Manager Harpreet Hora.

Once the city learns when the tax digest will come out, it will post dates for the millage rate adoption process on the city’s website, she added.

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