JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Johns Creek City Council members provided a lesson in sausage-making Aug. 24, spending more than an hour discussing, hashing and rehashing changes to the proposed 2021 budget.
It was the second of three public hearings on the $59 million spending plan that goes into effect Oct. 1. The third and final public hearing is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 8 — the day after Labor Day — at City Hall.
At issue Aug. 24 was about two dozen adjustments council members had proposed to the budget Mayor Bodker first offered in mid-June.
Even after the dust settled, though, and all the cuts and expenditures were tallied, there were still questions over whether the budget was overfunded or short by more than $186,000. The confusion lasted only a minute and was resolved when Finance Director Ronnie Campbell alerted officials that any shortage was based on outdated revenue figures. Still, it served as an apt ending to a process that saw tempers rise and expectations of harmony sink.
Council members Stephanie Endres and Chris Coughlin led the charge for budget cuts, offering up a list of more than $1 million in trims, including removal of a cost of living wage adjustment to employees.
In the end, none of the proposed cuts passed, although close to half a million dollars budgeted for some items was embargoed, meaning it shouldn’t be spent unless needed.
The budget predicts only a surplus of $86,250 which came not through a cut, but from an adjustment in the updated figure for the cost of living stipend for employees.
The 2021 spending plan reflects a decrease of 6 percent reduction in spending from the current year, and there is an overall decrease of nearly $180,000 in operational expenditures.
Nevertheless, the budget calls for some big-ticket items in the form of capital projects. They include spending:
• $1 million for construction of the roundabout at Barnwell Road and Rivermont Parkway. This would be the final funding infusion for a project a majority on the City Council agreed was needed to enhance safety on the Barnwell Road corridor.
• $635,870 for the second phase of a new Enterprise Resource Planning System. The system would provide the means by which city departments organize and manage their workflow and services to residents and businesses.
• $600,000 to fund right-of-way acquisition for two intersection improvements, one at Buice Road and Spruill Road, the other at Brumbelow Road and Tuckerbrook Lane.
• $500,000 for new sidewalk and trail additions.
The city also has an Accruals Fund with about $11 million. Accruals include saved money to pay for equipment upkeep, infrastructure maintenance and vehicle replacement.
For 2021, these expenditures include $3 million for resurfacing, $1.2 million for park maintenance projects and $1 million toward replacing existing vehicles, include 10 police vehicles and a fire engine.
In addition to its regular budget, the city also is charged with spending other monies collected for specific improvements.
Expenses from the $40 million Park Bond approved by voters in 2016 include:
• Opening of Morton Road Park, a 4-acre neighborhood park scheduled to open in first quarter.
• A replica replacement of the Rogers Bridge set to begin construction in the fall.
• Construction of Phase 1 of Cauley Creek Park, a 200-acre park that will include a pervious rubber 14-foot wide multi-use trail that will run 3.1 miles.