Council hears straight talk on quarterly finances

Assistant City Manager Steve Rapson told City Council members Nov. 18 that while state and local governments across the country are likely to face a “reality adjustment” soon, Sandy Springs is fiscally sound.

“Sales taxes are pretty much dead-on,” he said. “In Sandy Springs we enjoy a very strong, diverse economy. We do expect to continue to develop the city itself as an economic hub. Residential community continues to experience a significant redevelopment, and I don’t see that slowing down.”

Rapson didn’t downplay the gravity of the economic climate, though. “This is the first time in two decades we have all three of the major revenue categories actually declining at the same time: property, sales and income.”

The biggest impact on the city’s budget will likely be a shortfall of about $1 million because of appeals made to the Fulton County Tax Assessor’s Office, which reassessed property values in the city for this fiscal year. Property values have since declined as the real estate market has fallen sharply.

“A lot of folks are going to go back and demand decreases for their home values, and most of them are going to get them,” Rapson said. “Basically, this is a very substantial revenue loss.”

The best course of action for Sandy Springs is to follow “pretty much the same plan, the same approach, that we’ve done since Day 1” and balance between staffing and operating capital while keeping money in a contingency fund, he said. “We make sure we live within our means.”

Meeting planned for Lake Forrest sidewalks

The Sandy Springs Public Works Department will hold a 6 p.m. meeting Dec. 10 at Lake Forest Elementary School to discuss a planned sidewalk project along Lake Forrest Drive.

The goal is to develop a safe pedestrian route along Lake Forrest Drive from Allen Road to Hammond Drive, adjacent to the new school. Elements of the project will include the sidewalk, a landscape strip and pedestrian-scale street lighting.

The project will include an intersection improvement at the corner of Lake Forrest and Hammond drives and possibly the addition of a dedicated left-turn lane onto northbound Lake Forrest Drive.

Call the city’s Citizen Response Center at 770-730-5600 or visit www.sandyspringsga.org for more information.