The Sandy Springs City Council is looking for ways to fund its downtown plans.
The latest budget proposal for Fiscal 2013 allocates $9 million to build infrastructure and buy land. A projected $11.3 million surplus also will be available for city projects, but city officials say they are not specifically directing the budget surplus to downtown plans. City Council members discussed the budget during a May 8 work session. City spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said the $9 million is an “assumption” for budget planning purposes. The city’s budget policies require keeping a minimum of 25 percent of its operating and debt expenses in reserves. The current budget assumption would set aside $20 million to cover three months’ worth of expenses.
Kraun said all capital projects, which include downtown spending, will come from next year’s revenue and unspent money from the current fiscal year. The current Fiscal 2013 budget proposal includes $5 million to buy land for a city hall and $4 million for downtown infrastructure improvements. City Manager John McDonough said he reduced an earlier proposal to spend $5 million on downtown infrastructure improvements by $1 million to spend more money on other projects. The city currently has $9 million saved in its city hall fund.
Council members have said building a City Hall complex may require the city to borrow money in the form of bonds. During the work session, Councilman Tibby DeJulio said the council should consider beefing up the amount the city keeps in reserves to improve Sandy Springs’ bond rating. DeJulio did not specifically mention paying for the city hall project using bond money.
A government’s bond rating is essentially its credit score. Sandy Springs has never issued a bond and doesn’t have a rating.