The Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Mayor’s Recommended Budget for July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 for the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCGov) has been submitted to the Commission for review. This budget is balanced and includes a General Fund Operating and Capital Budget that totals $140.1 million for FY21, which is $52,000 below the FY20 level.
The budget year begins on July 1. In advance of the beginning of the fiscal year, departments and constitutional officials submit operating and capital budget requests for review by the Manager and the Mayor. The Mayor submits a recommended budget to the Commission for review no later than April 30 each year. The Commission reviews the Mayor’s Recommended Budget and can make any adjustments necessary prior to adopting the budget in June.
The FY21 Mayor’s Recommended Budget proposes a millage rate of 13.825 for property tax year 2020, which is a millage reduction of 0.125 from FY20. Each mill of this rate produces $1 of taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property value as determined by the Tax Assessor’s Office.
Strategic Commitments and Goals agreed to by the Mayor and Commission at their most recent annual retreat helped to guide the development of the FY21 Mayor’s Recommended Budget. Some of the major items included in this budget are:
- $320,000 in the Police Department to add eight new Communications Officer positions to begin implementation of an enhanced Emergency Medical Dispatch program.
- Fare free Transit service on weeknights and weekends beginning in January 2021.
- A reduction in alcohol licensing fees for restaurants and bars, resulting in a revenue reduction of $475,000, with anticipation of a modest increase in FY22 to be below current fee levels.
- Several initiatives for the Board of Elections, including $125,000 for additional poll workers and overtime needed for the new voting system and for additional days and hours of advance voting and $34,400 for additional supplies and equipment to support the new voting system.
- $300,000 to shift the Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful function to the General Fund from the Landfill Fund to help bring financial stability to the Landfill Fund.
- Deferment of water and sewer rate increases scheduled for FY21 to keep current rates.
- $750,000 to continue funding for the Neighborhood Leaders program that began in FY20 as part of the Prosperity Package.
- $150,000 to continue funding for two Grant Specialist positions in the Housing and Community Development Department that also began as part of the Prosperity Package.
- $150,000 for the Workforce Development Program started in FY20, including a full time position in the Economic Development Department, 50% of the cost of a Fleet Maintenance Trainer position, and $60,000 added to a fund to partner with other agencies to create a training curriculum for targeted individuals that will help them gain employment.
- $150,000 to continue an offender incentive program to support and train inmates as they perform labor on behalf of ACCGov.
- $2.1 million for implementing a revised pay plan for public safety employees, which will be implemented alongside enhanced behavioral health and community engagement efforts within the Police Department.
- Funding for Performance Management Program (PMP) to attract, retain, and reward talented employees. Across all funds, the PMP funding is approximately $800,000 ($500,000 in the General Fund), which is equivalent to 1.5% of pay and related benefits.
- $430,000 across all funds ($300,000 in the General Fund) to provide a 1% market-based adjustment for general employees.
- Across all funds, the recommended budget will add 26 full-time positions, including 21 new positions across all funds and five full time positions converted from eight part time positions. Some of the positions include eight Communications Officers in Police for enhanced EMS dispatch, an Arts Program Leader in Leisure Services, an Animal Control Officer in Animal Services, a Capital Projects Coordinator in the Manager’s Office, a GIS Technician in the Geospatial Information Office, and a Communications Strategist in the Inclusion Office. With the new positions, the total number of ACCGov authorized positions is 1,723. At this level, the Unified Government’s ratio of full-time positions to community population remains below 14 per 1,000 citizens.
The Tax Assessor’s Office updates the estimated market value of taxable property - called the tax digest - as part of the budget preparation. Due to coronavirus COVID-19, the creation of the tax digest has been delayed until early to mid-May. The Mayor’s FY21 Recommended Budget uses preliminary estimates of the digest until the digest is released.
The Athens-Clarke County Commission is scheduled to adopt the FY21 Budget at a Special Called Meeting on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. in the Commission Chamber on the second floor of City Hall, 301 College Avenue.
A public hearing on the FY21 Recommended Budget is scheduled for Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Hall Commission Chamber located on the second floor of City Hall, 301 College Avenue.
In addition, other budget-related meetings will take place:
- Thursday, May 21 - 5:30 p.m.
- Thursday, May 28 - 5:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, June 3 - 5:30 p.m.
- Thursday, June 11 (if needed) – 5:30 p.m.
Due to continued uncertainty over coronavirus COVID-19, the locations of these meetings and forms of public comment that will be received is still being determined. Visit www.accgov.com/clerkofcommission or call 706-613-3031 for more information.
The FY21 Mayor’s Recommended Budget can be reviewed on Athens-Clarke County’s Web site at www.accgov.com/budget.
Once buildings have re-opened for public visitation, copies of the FY21 Mayor’s Recommended Budget will also available for public inspection during normal office hours at the following locations:
- the Clerk of Commission’s Office in City Hall, 301 College Avenue, in Suite 204;
- the Manager’s Office in City Hall, 301 College Avenue, in Suite 303; and
A budget summary section is available as part of the overall budget document.