The Gist

The budget proposal was primarily restoring capital projects deferred early in the pandemic.
Council deferred both a public hearing and a vote on using the funds.
A work session on Jan. 4 will "vet" the plan, with a hearing and council vote on Jan. 18.

Citing confusion by city residents, the Sandy Springs City Council on Dec. 21 deferred its allocation of up to $67 million in budget surplus funds until January.

City Councilmember John Paulson made the motion to defer the vote. He asked that it be added as a discussion item during the council’s Jan. 4 work session. The public hearing and vote to allocate the funds will be held during its Jan. 18 meeting.

Sandy Springs City Councilmember John Paulson.

“I think there’s some confusion regarding what we’re doing here,” Paulson said. “And I want to back up just a minute and talk about this. This is part of a five-year capital plan that the staff put together literally in the spring of last year.”

The council had put the capital plan on hold as they waited to see the outcome of the transportation sales tax referendum vote (TSPLOST).

“Because if it didn’t pass them, we were gonna have to shift some of this money around,” Paulson said.

The TSPLOST passed, which brought back the capital plan. The city also had a budget surplus that just was reconciled a few months ago, he said.

Mayor Rusty Paul said at the start of the pandemic, the city was at the midpoint of its fiscal year. The city restructured its budget by basically stopping the funding of capital projects, because they didn’t know what impacts the pandemic would have on revenue.

“The impact of the pandemic was not nearly as severe as we had anticipated, fortunately. So that’s where the money’s come from,” he said.

Now, the city has taxpayer money that needs to go toward the deferred capital projects, Paul said. The city can’t afford to go much longer than another 30 days, he said, because departments including police and fire were expecting to purchase equipment they need.

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