Sandy Springs residents will get a chance to tell City Council what they think of its proposed fiscal year 2023 budget at public hearings on June 7 and 21.

The public hearings will start at 6 p.m. in the Studio Theatre at 1 Galambos Way. To make a comment at the meetings, a Public Comment Form must be submitted. For comments via Zoom, it must be submitted by noon the day of the meeting. In-person comment cards must be submitted before the meeting starts.

The city’s budget proposal proposes $109 million in General Fund revenue, which comes from taxes, licenses and permits, charges for services, and federal grants.

Budget reflects higher gas prices

Eleven new positions are included in the budget proposal and a not-too-surprising increase in gasoline costs, City Council was told during its May 24 special budget workshop.

The Sandy Springs Fire Department request for two new fire engines was included in the proposed city budget. Pierce/Ten-8 of Georgia

“We increased gasoline for police, fire, emergency management and fleet management, Rec and Park and Community Development,” City Manager Eden Freeman said.

Higher gas prices are adding more than $480,000 to the budget compared to fiscal year 2022. These increases include a 50% increase for the Police Department, adding $260,000 to the previous year’s budget. The Fire Department’s 110% increase in gas costs amounted to $165,000.

City departments plan new positions

At least 11 new full-time positions are envisioned in the city’s proposed budget.

Several departments intend to add staff, such as the Police Department’s plans to add another victim advocate. The City Clerk’s office needs another assistant city clerk due to the number of public meetings by City Council and the city’s various boards and commissions.

Information Technology plans to add an enterprise application administrator.

As the city wraps up its TSPLOST I projects in the next few years and starts up TSPLOST II projects approved by voters in November, the Public Works Department wants two more employees dedicated to those projects. These would be a utility coordinator field superintendent and a right-of-way coordinator.

Recreation and Parks plans to add an urban forest coordinator, which would be funded by the Tree Fund, collected from tree removal permits.

Community Development plans to add four full-time employees as activity ramps up with the recovery from the pandemic. A building plan reviewer, civil plan reviewer, zoning plan reviewer and an arborist would be hired.

A special events coordinator and a development manager are being sought for the Arts Center.

Sandy Springs pays its debt (service)

The operating budget assumptions of $24.4 million includes $12.6 million in payments for principal and interest on bonds for City Springs and the Morgan Falls Road property slated for the Police Department and Municipal Court.

Debt service for fire truck purchases will cost the city almost $1.2 million.

The more than $5 million anticipated in revenue from the Performing Arts Center is projected to fall short of the expenses, so another $1.7 million will be designated to support its operations.

“While we are starting to see some rebounds in attendance and ticket sales, we thought that we’d take a closer look at these numbers and brought them back closer in line with what we think is a realistic number,” City Manager Eden Freeman said. That’s a reduction from the current fiscal year, she said.

The city’s call center contractor will be paid $601,000.

Contractors used by the Public Works Department are expected to cost the city $5.7 million.

Infrastructure costs approach $10 million

The budget projects spending almost $10 million in its capital budget infrastructure fund, including Public Works projects such as the $5.5 million in the pavement management program, $500,000 on the public safety building fiber project to bring it to the Morgan Falls Road property, and $685,000 on the traffic management program.

Veterans Park was the largest capital project in the budget – not including TSPLOST projects – with $2.95 million budgeted for its construction.

The next largest capital projects will be $1.9 million spent on stormwater capital improvements, repair and maintenance, and $1.5 million on renovations to the Morgan Falls property for use at police headquarters and the courthouse.

Vehicle replacement costs reach $4 million

The capital budget fleet fund was set a little above $4 million. Most of that will be spent on two fire engine replacements and fire administrative vehicles ($2.3 million), and replacement police vehicles and a quick response force vehicle ($1.5 million).

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Bob Pepalis

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