Sandy Springs City Council may wait until after their council planning retreat in February before approving how to spend most of the city’s $67.3 million unassigned fund balance, several members said during its Jan. 4 work session.

The city ended up with a large fund balance after setting a conservative budget based on revenue fears due to the pandemic and the decision to defer most capital spending in the budget.

Questions about the proposals and a perceived rush for approval led the city to defer a planned vote during its Dec. 21 meeting. The work session discussion on Tuesday and a vote with public comment on Jan. 18 were scheduled instead.

Policy requires the city to reserve 25 percent of anticipated revenues, which is $26.5 million, Finance Director Toni Jo Howard said. Council could increase that to 30 percent by adding another $5.3 million to its reserves.

City Council previously approved allocating a little more than $4.1 million of the fund balance:

  •  $2.5 million – Paving
  •  $422,395 – Fire Department salaries
  •  $1.2 million – Veterans Park phase 2 site prep work

Councilmember Andy Bauman said he had no problem in approving time sensitive items when the fund balance proposal will be brought up for a vote on Jan. 18. He did not want council to work on it piecemeal between now and when work begins on the next fiscal year’s budget particularly with two new council members and a new city manager coming on board.

“But I’m really a little reluctant to do some of these items now, as opposed to later after we go through our retreat,” he said.

Councilmember Tibby DeJulio said he wanted fleet maintenance, paving and infrastructure as separate items in the proposal, rather than how it was grouped in one $13 million fund.

Even after department proposals for using the fund balance, $16.1 million remained unassigned.

Councilmember Melissa Mular wants to hold off on following staff’s proposal to use $6.5 million of that on a trail from Morgan Falls Overlook Park to Roswell Road by way of Orkin Lake and Cimarron Parkway. She said this is the second trail segment planned and biggest planned expense in trails so they should make sure “it’s just the right trail segment that we should be doing at this time.”

Bob Pepalis

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