Forest Park to hold public hearing on budget June 17

Forest Park is holding a public hearing on its budget June 17 at 7 p.m.

FOREST PARK—The Forest Park City Council will hold a public hearing on the city's $26.9 million proposed 2019-2020 operating budget at its meeting on Monday, June 17 at Council Chambers.

The council work session begins at 6 p.m. while the regular meeting, which is scheduled to include the budget hearing, begins at 7 p.m.

Highlights of this fiscal year's budget  include:

• a $2,012,498 spending increase "to continue the current level of service to our citizens";

• a possible reduction in the current 16.743 property tax millage rate, pending results of the county tax digest (that's a $16.743 tax on each $1,000 of property, so a $60,000 house would be taxed $1,004.58); 

• an employee salary review as a result of the Wage and Compensation Study (Mayor Angelyne Butler promised city employees a pay raise during her State of the City address);

• a projected $1,400,834 increase in personal property tax collections.

Major departmental spending requests include:

• $9,858,659 for the police department, up $620,177 over last fiscal year;

• $4,806,175 for the fire department, up $394,567;

• $3,994,123 for Public Works, up $772,911;

• $1,850,821 for EMS services, up $97,233;

• $1,579,170 for the finance office, down $266,226;

• $1,334,219 for Recreation and Leisure, up $72,367.

All General Fund budget requests total $26,921,004, an increase of $2,012,498 over last fiscal year.

The Sanitation Fund, which is separate, projects more than a half-million-dollar increase over last year at $3,943,750, up $598,750. Solid waste collection fees, which are an operating expense for the city, are projected at $2,549,762, an increase of $119,757 over last fiscal year. With operating income at $478,993 and a projected transfer to the General Fund of $611,664, that leaves a projected loss for the Sanitation Fund of $132,671.

The city is cutting AT&T/Bellsouth's franchise fees by 20 percent, a break worth $15,000, while adding $90,000 in revenues from the gas franchise to Southern Company. Other franchise fees stay the same:

• Georgia Power: $1,150,000

• Atlanta Gas: $95,000

• Comcast: $120,000

• Birch Communications: $1,000

• MCI/Verizon: $500

• "Other": $1,000

Most revenues come from the $6 million Local Option Sales Tax and a projected $4.7 million in real property taxes. 

Business occupation tax revenues are projected to grow $200,000, while the city projects a 16.67 percent drop in business license and occupational tax penalties worth about $5,000.

The city is doubling license and permit fees on adult entertainment from $50,000 to $100,000. Wine tax revenues are predicted to go up 33 percent to $20,000, while liquor tax revenues project a 20.48% increase, netting $100,000.

The work session is scheduled to include presentations on a potential information technology contractor; the Jasber Music Festival, which is a free music festival scheduled for July 6 on Main Street; the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing Program, which partners with cities over a three-year period to develop affordable housing solutions; L&E Entertainment, a company owned by Larry Lowe of Forest Park and Emmanuel Gambrell of Atlanta; and United Food Force, a faith-based food charity based in McDonough.

Also up for consideration on the agenda: 

• whether to join the expanded Aerotropolis Community Improvement District;

• whether to permanently close Ballard Road and Stone Mountain View Drive, remove them as streets, and sell the property to a car dealer who wants to expand (the closest auto-related business to the proposed closure is ES Imports Auto Service);

• whether to approve a homecoming parade for Forest Park High School, which the school says will create a tradition and give the city's young people "a platform...to showcase themselves while building pride all over Forest Park";

• whether the city should enter a 6-month contract with InterDev Solutions for information technology services. InterDev's Director of Government Services, Ashley Smith, used to head up IT services in Hapeville, including the Hapeville Wi-Fi Network.

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