During a final budget hearing at City Hall held on September 18, the city of South Fulton adopted its FY2020 budget. The total budget of $105,912,402 covers operating revenues, expenditures and capital investments.
The city is expected to collect $73,821,952 in general fund revenue. Also anticipated is over $17 million in TSPLOST funds. For the first time, the budget also includes loan funds through the city’s new Urban Redevelopment Agency (URA) to tackle capital improvements.
A sizable portion of the city’s expenditures, over 45 percent, will be allocated to public safety. The second highest spending category is public works, which comprises 16.8 percent of the budget. More than $11 million in capital investment is also planned, $4.7 million of which will go to parks and recreation. Significant portions of that investment will also be allocated to transportation, police and fire.
During the city’s first budget hearing, concerns were raised about the lack of funds in contingency. Last night, to quell some of residents’ fears, the city manager proposed a list of changes that would add $2.6 million to the city’s contingency line. The budget cuts result in the removal of an average of $83,000 to each department.
Frustrations were high during the meeting on the side of both the public and the city council. Joyce “Mama Joyce” Jones, the mother of Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Kandi Burruss led a chorus of seniors who expressed concerns over the city’s spending, and a host of other issues.
Jones felt that communication had been lacking and that more effort should be made to communicate with seniors outside of emails. She said that the city should scrap the entire budget and start over citing, “too many ups and downs” in the budget process.
Sir Jose Bright said that he felt the city was not being proactive enough in budget discussions based on economists’ predictions of a recession. He asked for deeper cuts and for the city to do a better job of controlling spending. He also expressed concerns about consultants’ fees and the city’s future credit rating.
Other concerns brought up during public comment included the lack of a large commercial tax base, uncertainty of future development, procurement, minority contractor participation and the councilmembers’ recent vote to raise their salaries from $13,000 to $27,676 and the mayor’s salary from $23,000 to $37,676.
Councilmembers also expressed concerns about the budget, ranging from spending to the city’s organizational structure. So much so that Councilmembers Carmalitha Gumbs, Naeema Gilyard and khalid kamau voted against it. The vote resulted in a tie due to Councilmember Catherine Foster Rowell’s absence – she left early to facilitate a previously scheduled Atlanta Regional Commission event. Mayor William “Bill” Edwards was forced to cast the tie-breaking vote, deciding in favor of the budget’s passing.
“I believe that if I have 10 decisions to make, I’m going to make all 10,” said Mayor Edwards in response to outbursts from the gallery. “All of them might not be good, but you can’t say I didn’t make one.”
The city of South Fulton’s fiscal year begins October 1. Amendments can be made throughout the year.
Photo: Real Housewives of Atlanta’s “Mama Joyce” and another South Fulton senior raised concerns about the city budget to Mayor William “Bill” Edwards.