Sandy Springs City Council will decide on Tuesday, Dec. 21, how to spend a $67 million budget surplus.

A public hearing on the surplus will be held during the meeting that starts at 6 p.m. The council is expected to make a decision the same night.

Sandy Springs City Council will hold its last planned meeting for the year on Tuesday, Dec. 21 at City Hall in City Springs.

The surplus funds come from multiple years, not just fiscal year 2021, and have yet to be allocated, said Sandy Springs spokesperson Jason Fornicola. 

“The FY21 budget was passed as a balanced budget that did not include a surplus. Thus the amount added to the fund balance in FY21 was more than the budget anticipated,” he said.

The city scheduled a public hearing to give the public a chance to comment, he said. State law requires public hearings to adopt the annual budget, but not for budget amendments like this.

Leslie Mullis and Tochie Blad, who both ran unsuccessfully for council seats in the November municipal election, questioned the transparency of this action.

In an email message to City Council members and Mayor Rusty Paul, Mullis asked why these decisions needed to be made a few weeks before new city council members will be sworn into office.

Blad wanted the budget amendment to be deferred, particularly since the city manager had resigned and her replacement isn’t yet in place. 

The proposal council is expected to vote on also includes keeping 25% of its revenue – or $26.5 million of the surplus – in reserve for its “rainy day fund.”

(Download a presentation on the budget surplus below)

Former City Manager Andrea Surratt proposed a plan to allocate another $13 million for a fleet and infrastructure maintenance fund.

Complicating matters are three expenditures already approved by City Council even before these funds were allocated:

·        $2.5 million for a paving budget amendment approved on Oct. 19.

·        $422,395 for a fire salaries budget amendment approved on Nov. 2.

·        $1.2 million for a Veterans Park budget amendment for phase 2 of site cleanup and prep work on Nov. 16.

That leaves $23.7 million for the City Council to allocate for other projects. City staff will propose using almost $11 million of that for capital project requests for public safety vehicles and equipment, construction projects, public works, parks, IT and community development.

If the City Council approves the proposals, the city still will have $16.1 million remaining in its budget surplus that hasn’t been allocated for a specific use.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.