The Dunwoody City Council approved a 2018 budget amendment at its Oct. 22 meeting that cobbles together just short of $7 million dollars to be used to build sports fields and renovate the great lawn at Brook Run Park.

The mayor and City Council also approved next year’s $25 million city budget without any discussion as part of the consent agenda.

Brook Run Park funding

The approximate $7 million amount approved as part of the 2018 budget amendment is for Brook Run Park’s first phase of its parks master plan including the construction of two multi-use fields, a band shell, renovation of the great lawn area, more parking and restroom facilities. The council was presented this summer an estimated budget of $7.5 million for the Brook Run Park project.

The majority of the funding approved in the budget amendment is the $2.88 million from the parks bond settlement the city received in 2015 from DeKalb County. Slightly more than $2 million is cobbled together from general fund savings including:

$1 million from real property tax

$300,000 from franchise fees (collected from utilities for use of right of way)

$140,000 from building structures and equipment

$290,500 from reduced expenses from regular salaries

$21,000 from reduced expenses of overtime salaries

$101,000 from reduced group insurance

$4,500 from reduced Medicare expenses

$63,000 from reduced retirement expenses

“We watched our pennies and nickels for years for this [parks project] for all of the citizens of Dunwoody,” Councilmember John Heneghan said.

Another $1.45 million is coming from the homestead option sales tax that includes $1 million in HOST reserves and $450,000 in unbudgeted HOST revenue collected in January, February and March.

HOST money that had been used for capital projects, including in parks, was eliminated this year following the passage of the special local option sales tax, or SPLOST.

The city is slated to receive about $6.5 million in SPLOST money next year, but the money can only be used for public safety and transportation, such as paving, and a small amount to maintain existing capital projects. None of the funding can be used for capital projects.

State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) authored the SPLOST legislation with help from DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond. Millar said he specifically did not want any of the SPLOST revenue to be used for capital projects so DeKalb County could not build a government complex on Memorial Drive.

As part of SPLOST, the HOST was replaced with an equalized homestead option sales tax that provides property tax relief to homeowners.

The council is expected to approve the final funding for Brook Run Park by December.

2019 budget

The City Council approved at the meeting next year’s $25 million city budget as part of the consent agenda, meaning there was no discussion. The council discussed the budget last month.

The approved 2019 budget includes:

$25 million general fund

$1.225 million E911 fund

$4.05 million hotel-motel tax fund

$6.53 million SPLOST fund

$585,202 debt service fund

$6.7 million capital projects fund

$2.15 million stormwater fund

From the city’s $25 million general fund, the budget is broken down by departments, including: $9.5 million for Police; $5.53 million for Finance and Administration; $2.62 million for Public Works; $2.8 million for Parks and Recreation; and $1.95 million for Community Development.

Next year’s approved budget eliminates the Facilities Improvement Partnership Program and rolls that money into the Parks and Recreation Department.

For many years, the council budgeted about $250,000 for FIPP and invited nonprofit groups, such as the Dunwoody Nature Center, the Spruill Center for the Arts and the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, to apply for grant to make upgrades or repairs to their buildings.

The budget includes $3.1 million for city paving; $1.85 million for improvements to Roberts Drive including sidewalks as part of the construction of the new Austin Elementary School; and $643,905 of SPLOST money to be used to replace police vehicles.

The 2019 budget originally had $3 million for Brook Run Park, but that was eliminated due to the funds being found in the 2018 budget.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.