Gainesville City Council unanimously approved the budget for fiscal year 2021-2022 Monday June 15. The budget includes a 1 mill tax credit for Gainesville property owners and temporary federal funding.
The general fund millage rate is being rolled back from 0.735 mills in 2020-2021 to 0.5 mills in 2021-2022, which qualifies as a full rollback, Chief Financial Officer Jeremy Perry said. Temporary federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 of $11.9 million will allow the city to give taxpayers a reduction of property taxes equal to 1 mill, this is equal to $250 for every $250,000 of assessed property value.
“We all felt that because we've been blessed in our community and we’re doing really well … the right thing to do was give back,” City Manager Bryan Lackey said.
The budget includes a new special services fund for police, and the city intends to increase its number of officers and services in future years, according to a report by Lackey. The budget shows about $2.2 million less for the police department in its general fund, but the new police services fund will have an ad valorem tax rate of 0.5 mills. This is expected to raise about $2.8 million to go toward police services, according to the budget.
“I hope the historic significance of this budget is not lost on you or our community, for us to establish this police services district,” Lackey said addressing the council members. “This really sets up the future for them.”
SPLOST revenue increased from about $4 million last year to $5.5 million this year’s budget. SPLOST is a $0.01 special-purpose local option sales tax and the latest extension was approved in November 2019.
The Parks and Recreation millage rate is set at .896 mills, which is an increase from last year’s rate of .75 mills. Fire services tax rate is set at 1.250 mills, and the rate for debt services is .51 mills. The Gainesville Board of Education recommends a millage rate for the school district of 6.395 mills, and that rate will be voted on at their June 21 meeting.
The budget includes $126,650,231 for capital improvements, and $60.5 million of that money is from Georgia Environmental Finance Authority loans. And $18 million will go toward Athens Highway sanitary sewer extension, with $24.5 million for the Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility and $10 million for the Gainesville Highway sanitary sewer pump station. These capital improvements are a significant increase from last year’s $35.2 million spending plan for capital improvements.
The city received $489,114 from a Community Development Block Grant program, which will go toward housing in the city, which could include land acquisition, rehabilitation of existing properties or new construction. City employees will also see a 4% cost of living adjustment for their salaries.
Lackey reported at the council’s May 13 meeting that the city had added nearly 460 new jobs and had seen $200,000,000 in investment based on data from the Economic Development Council.