The Sandy Springs City Council approved its fiscal year 2018 budget, including a $106 million operating budget, at its June 20 meeting. The council also renewed its main city government outsourcing contracts.

The budget will take effect July 1. The council will hold public hearings on the budget on June 6 and June 20.

The operating budget’s spending is an increase of about a half-percent over the current year. It projects revenues of about $92 million, with money from a reserve fund balancing the expenditures. The revenue projection is about 1 percent higher than fiscal 2017. While most revenue sources are projected to increase, property taxes are expected to show a 2.2 percent decline, despite the recent controversy over increased residential assessments.

The police department would get a budget boost of more than 9 percent to about $22.8 million. Part of that is a salary increase to remain competitive as a State Patrol pay boost is attracting officers away from the department, city officials said. The boost also includes hiring more officers, mostly to staff a mini-station in the City Springs project set to open next year. The hiring includes one sergeant and eight full-time officers, as well as two part-time positions.

The Recreation and Parks Department would get a big budget increase, of about 30.5 percent, to $4.7 million. Part of that will cover a revised parks master plan process that will be conducted this fall.

The only public comment at the council meeting came from bicyclist Bill Black, who called for funding some restriping of roads to include bike lanes. He noted that biking on Roswell Road is “absolutely nuts” at the moment. Black was repeating a call made at the June 6 council meeting by Joe Seconder of the advocacy group Bike Walk Dunwoody to devote 0.002 percent of the budget to such restriping as a “quick fix” while the city builds multi-use trails and other systems.

The city did not make any change to fund the bike-oriented restriping. Councilmember Gabriel Sterling told Black that as a “fellow cyclist,” he understands the situation and that the city has a policy of adding such amenities during restriping required by road projects. But the city will not do restriping solely to add bike lanes, to be “frugal,” Sterling said.

Besides the general fund for operations, the city has its capital budget and many other funds, including revenue coming soon from the new transportation special local option sales tax. The total funds the city controls amount to about $427 million.

Those funds include a budget for the performing arts center in City Springs, which is set to open about a year from now. The city expects to spend about $1.3 million on the center over the next year, with about $900,000 of that on staffing.

The city’s hallmark is outsourcing its main functions to private companies. The total cost of those contracts is projected to rise by 6.45 percent to about $17.4 million, due to automatic increases dictated in the contracts as well as some new hiring.

The city is in the second year of a three-year agreement to renew the main administrative outsourcing contracts without rebidding them to provide consistency during the City Springs opening and the rewriting of the city’s zoning code. The contract renewals were approved on the council’s consent agenda.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.