MILTON, Ga. — The Milton City Council approved the city’s 2020 budget at its Sept. 23 meeting which opens the door for several new undertakings. 

“We are delivering on our promises which is to truly perform at the level asked for by the community,” said Finance Director Bernadette Harvill. “The majority of our requests to council were approved, and they are driven to do just that, which is provide the quality of service asked by staff. A lot of those driving forces are a lot of the new initiatives.” 

The budget will allow Milton to conduct a city-wide traffic survey which will provide data on traffic patterns and a study on potentially lowering speed limits. Also approved under the budget is allocating $220,000 for a HAWK traffic signal for pedestrian crossing on Crabapple road in Downtown Crabapple. A HAWK signal is operating along Ga. 9 in Downtown Alpharetta. 

The budget also calls for several park initiatives, including the addition of a new baseball field. Milton has set aside $450,000 for land acquisition, construction and planning/design for the new, lighted field. 

Milton also has $934,000 budgeted for improvements, repairs and updates to the park at the former Milton Country Club property and $650,000 earmarked to add to the city’s active park spaces. 

In response to the dissolvement of Milton’s parks agreement with Alpharetta, the budget will set aside $50,000 for a cost-saving program for residents who must pay out-of-city fees for Alpharetta programming. 

The 2020 budget for several new city employees, including two new firefighters and two police officers. A departmental study on the city’s police force said an increase in calls has spurred the need for more patrol officers. The new hires will bring the city’s total number of general patrol officers to 21. 

Milton has also budgeted for part-time special events coordinator, two paid summer internship positions, changing a part-time parks and recreation position to full-time and the creation of a camp manager position for Camp Joyful Soles. 

The budget also looks to future initiatives with funds allocated for the city’s new public safety complex, which is under construction, and Milton’s 5-year strategic plan, which will serve as a guide for the city’s future spending. 

The total budget was set at $42.9 million and balanced by using $1.7 million in fund balance reserves. The general fund revenues are expected to be just under $30 million and the city anticipates $6.5 million in transportation sales tax revenues.

The city expects just under $17 million in property tax revenues, which accounts for 41 percent of the city’s intake. That amount was impacted by the new floating homestead tax exemption. 

“Our number of exempt properties more than doubled with the floating exemption,” Harvill said.

However, the city did make up some of those funds by electing to raise its millage rate back to its cap of 4.731, the same rate the city has used every year but 2018. That year, the city chose to lower the rate amid the sharp and sudden increase to property tax assessments. The city also chose to change its budgeting process as a result of the 2018 assessments. Milton changed its strategy and began funding its operations using revenues generated from the prior year instead of anticipating revenues for the upcoming year. 

By returning to the city’s historic millage rate, Harvill said Milton is able to bring back its original capital improvement program. 

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