The city of Brookhaven’s is proposing a $46 million budget for 2020, including an approximately $28 million general fund that is a nearly 11% decrease from last year, according to city officials.
City Manager Christian Sigman presented the approximately 300-page budget document to Mayor John Ernst and the City Council at the Oct. 22 City Council meeting. The general fund, which covers day-to-day operations of the city, is proposed at $27,687,281. Sigman said that amount is a decrease of approximately $3.4 million from last year’s general fund budget.
The city’s millage rate remains 2.74.
The budget includes a new category that focuses on funding sustainability efforts in the city. Some of the sustainability efforts planned for 2020 include recycling events; spending $24,000 to perform an updated tree canopy assessment; converting some streetlights to LED lighting; and $50,000 to fill in gaps on multiuse paths and sidewalks to provide better bike and pedestrian connectivity.
Ernst praised the city’s 35% contingency fund, or what some call a “rainy day fund.” That total is $9.7 million and represents 35% of the city’s operating expenses, according to the city. Ernst also praised the reduced general fund budget.
An introduction to the budget explains the city’s largest revenue source is real property tax revenue. During 2019, the real property tax digest as determined by DeKalb County’s appraised value of all property in the city, was forecasted to increase 6%.
“However, the actual growth rate in 2019 was close to zero,” according to the budget document. “This lack of real property tax digest growth in 2019 resulted in a loss of $442,044 in budgeted 2019 property tax revenues. It is anticipated that this shortfall in 2019 will be made up via increases above budget in other revenue categories.”
Proposed funding for capital projects includes $2.2 million for paving and $1.1 million for city parks preservation projects. Another $100,000 would go toward bicycle striping and improvements.
The police department budget is proposed at nearly $10.5 million, an increase of more than $1.3 million from 2019. The budget increase is largely due to the significant raises approved by the council early this year to retain officers.
Public hearings on the budget will be held at the Nov. 12 and Nov. 26 City Council meetings. A final vote on the budget is expected to take place Nov. 26.