Here are files for the city of Sandy Springs proposed Fiscal 2013 budget:

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The Sandy Springs City Council on May 22 got a look at a $179 million budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1. The city expects an $11.2 million surplus and wants to spend it on projects, like creating a downtown and a new city hall. The Sandy Springs Reporter produced this budget guide so readers can better understand how the city intends to spend residents’ tax money.

1 ) What is a fiscal year? Calendar years run from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, but a fiscal year is the accounting year for a particular government. The Sandy Springs’ fiscal year starts July 1 and ends June 30. The current fiscal year is Fiscal 2012 and began on July 1, 2011. Fiscal 2013 will begin July 1, 2012.

2 ) What is a budget proposal? It’s literally a suggested budget. The City Council on May 22 wrapped up its budget workshop. Now the public will get a chance to tell the City Council what it thinks about the budget proposal. There will be two public hearings on the Fiscal 2013 budget. The meetings will be held at City Hall on June 5 and June 19 at 6 p.m. City Hall is located at 7840 Roswell Road, building 500. The City Council will consider adopting the budget on June 19.

3 ) What goes into the $179 million budget? The two major components for the city of Sandy Springs budget: the general fund, $90 million, and the capital projects fund, $73 million.

4 ) What is the general fund? The general fund pays for the day-to-day expenses of running city government, like paying employees and running offices. The largest expense in the general fund is the $31.5 million the city plans to spend on police and fire services.

5 ) What are capital projects? Capital projects are things like paving roads, expanding parks and building facilities. Building a new city hall would be a capital project. The Fiscal 2013 capital budget includes $49 million carried over from prior years. Even though projects might be budgeted in a given fiscal year, they are not always spent in that budget year because many projects are ongoing. The Fiscal 2013 plan budgets $43 million in transportation projects, the biggest expense in capital projects.

6 ) Where does the city get money to fund its budget? From you. To pay for the general fund the city collects taxes on your property, when you buy products, and from taxes on businesses, to name a few of its sources of income. The city pays for capital projects with money from its general fund and other sources, like federal and state highway money. But ultimately these funds are still your tax money.

7 ) Does the city keep money in reserves? Yes. The city of Sandy Springs maintains at least three months operating expenses as part of its budget policy. The city’s current budget proposal sets aside $20 million in reserves.

8 ) What’s a surplus? The city projects a surplus when it expects to have more money than it needs to operate after setting aside three months expenses. The projected surplus from Fiscal 2012 is $11.2 million. The city’s budget plan anticipates using that surplus in Fiscal 2013. The city’s technical term for its surplus is, “undesignated fund balance.”

9 ) How does the city plan to spend its surplus? On capital projects. The proposed Fiscal 2013 capital projects budget will include $24 million in additional spending, added to the $49 million carried over from prior years. The additional spending includes $5 million for a new city hall and $4 million for downtown infrastructure. The city has carried over $9 million set aside in prior years for building a city hall.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of