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.