By Amy Wenk
The city of Sandy Springs May 4 held its first workshop on next year’s budget.
Leather rolling chairs were squeezed into the “Flying Pig” conference room at City Hall. One by one each department director in the city stood up and told Mayor Eva Galambos and City Council the money they need for 2011.
City officials plan to adopt a final budget June 15. But the city’s staff won’t propose a budget until May 25 because council must first pick which capital projects get the dollars.
City Manager John McDonough said next year’s budget will allocate $10 to $14 million for capital projects.
He expects revenue to decline about $6.3 million in 2011 but said council could see surplus funds of $5 to $7 million from previous budget years. Last year, the city found $14 million leftover from 2008 because capital projects cost less than what the city budgeted.
Department heads May 4 presented 16 capital projects for council to prioritize before the second budget workshop May 11. That meeting will reveal what is projected in revenue, how much money sits in the fund balance and which capital projects council scored highest.
Here are more highlights from the early budget discussions:
• McDonough suggested the city budget $5 million for land acquisition next year. That money would continue to purchase property for a city hall, courts and police headquarters. The city already owns the eight-acre former Target site at Johnson Ferry Road and Sandy Springs Circle. But council comments during a March council retreat suggested city officials may try to buy the adjacent Goodwill parcel.
• Parks and Recreation Director Ronnie Young brought five projects to council, including a proposal to add a second gymnastics facility to the city. Young said he needs $500,000 to lease, retrofit, staff and equip an approximately 9,000-square-foot facility to relocate about 300 gymnasts. Competitive cheerleading and boys gymnastics programs would be added.
• Assistant City Manager Noah Reiter said ChatComm, the city’s 911 center that it runs with Johns Creek, requires $915,000 in next year’s budget to subsidize its operations. Revenue projections for the seven-month-old 911 center are higher than actual earnings to date That could leave ChatComm almost $1.3 million short on its annual services contract with iXP Corp., the company that designed, built and operates the call center.
• Police Chief Terry Sult asked council for more than $1.5 million in enhancements. Almost $900,000 would replace the department’s fleet of patrol cars and other vehicles. Just over $600,000 would buy new technologies like an electronic ticket system.
• Fire Chief Jack McElfish wanted about $220,000 to pay for a fire hydrant inspection program and some new equipment like a chest compression system for people in cardiac arrest.
• Director of Public Works Thomas Black said next year there might be half as much money for road paving and sidewalk construction as was allocated this year. He also asked $1.5 million be devoted to stormwater maintenance now that the inventory of infrastructure is complete.
• McDonough asked that city officials budget $2.5 million as contingency money next year for planned capital projects. He also said the operating budget should increase $1 million. The money will be spent on things like new software for the finance department.