JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker presented his proposal for the 2020 budget Aug. 19, starting the clock on the annual process to map out a spending plan for next year.
The mayor’s proposal does not take into account a decrease of some $2 million in projected revenue after the City Council’s vote in August to lower the tax rate on property.
The Johns Creek budget process begins with the mayor and city manager working together to prepare a balanced budget based on staff’s requests and the mayor’s priorities.
The proposal is then presented to the City Council and the public for comment and recommendations. By city charter, the council must adopt a budget by Oct. 1, the start of Johns Creek’s fiscal year.
The proposed $65.5 million budget, which includes capital projects and government operations, represents a 3.1 percent increase over 2019. Operational expenditures, those that fund the day-to-day operations of the government, would be down 2 percent from last year. However, debt service payment on the new City Hall – about $2 million – actually raises expenditures in the fund by 6 percent.
Within the proposed 2020 budget, personnel remains the largest expenditure for the city at $27.2 million, or 42 percent of the general fund. This includes cost-of-living and merit-based changes to staff salaries, a new health and dental plan and two new police officers.
The largest revenue streams remain local option sales taxes, which account for 38 percent of budgeted revenues. Property taxes account for the second-largest revenue source.
Among capital improvements proposed for 2020, public safety, traffic projects and stormwater infrastructure stand out as the priorities of the proposed budget.
Public safety employees constitute 76 percent of the city’s personnel, and the police and fire department budgets constitute 51 percent of general fund spending.
Additionally, the budget proposes adding two police officers to the force, retaining the two that were added mid-year in the 2019 fiscal year and creating a new officer rank to help retain experienced officers.
The mayor’s proposed 2020 budget includes capital expenses for Public Safety, including $1.2 million for a replacement fire truck, $500,000 for 10 replacement police vehicles, $290,000 for police body cameras and $38,000 to train six more firefighters as paramedics.
Addressing traffic, the budget draft lists four transportation sales tax, or TSPLOST, projects to move forward in 2020: widening State Bridge Road from Camden Way to the Chattahoochee River; and intersection improvements at Bell Road and McGinnis Ferry Road, Bell Road and Medlock Bridge Road and at Barnwell Road and Holcomb Bridge Road.
Other transportation expenditures include $1.5 million for improvements along Barnwell Road, $900,000 for trails and sidewalks, $450,000 for traffic signal monitoring and equipment replacements and $300,000 for other intersection improvements.
The mayor’s proposed 2020 budget includes using $4.7 million from anticipated rollover from 2019, most of it earmarked on stormwater.
This amount was based on $300,000 from closing capital projects, $1.2 million from expenditures that fell underbudget in 2019 and $3.2 million of 2019 revenue exceeding expectations.
But the rollover amount was estimated before the council set the 2019 property tax rate based on a rollback rate of 4.042 mills. The actual millage rate, 3.552, is projected to yield $2 million less than the original estimate. It remains to be seen whether this will impact use of reserves in 2020.
Most of the reserve money was set aside for stormwater: $1 million for a system assessment, $3.1 million for repairs and $100,000 for consulting services.
The remaining $500,000 was proposed to go to intersection improvements at Barnwell Road at Barnwell Elementary, Buice Road at Spruill Road and Brumbelow Road at Tuckerbrook Road.
In addition to operating expenses and capital projects, the proposed budget includes $14.2 million for maintenance and equipment accruals. This 22 percent of the budget would go to current and future maintenance and replacement needs.
Proposed 2020 maintenance projects include $3 million for road resurfacing and $1.3 million for park maintenance projects.
It remains to be seen what from the mayor’s proposal will make it into the final budget. There will be public hearings for the budget as part of City Council meetings Sept. 9 and Sept. 23, when the final budget is expected to be adopted.
Community members can also leave feedback on the city website, city social media pages or by email. The complete budget book can be found on the city website or in print at City Hall and at Park Place.