Athens-Clarke Mayor Kelly Girtz’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year includes a pay rise for government employees and also includes an increase in property tax collections.
Girtz’s spending plan was presented on April 29 but is not final as it could change in the coming weeks after a series of public hearings and budget review meetings before its final adoption on April 7. June.
The recommended budget is $166 million, an increase of almost $18 million over last year.
Girtz proposes reducing the millage rate – a fractional multiplier applied to the value of a given property to arrive at a tax bill – from 0.5 mils to a rate of 13.20 mils.
Despite the reduction in the property tax rate, the proposed budget shows that Athens-Clarke would be on track to have 52% of its general fund come from property taxes, an increase from previous years.
Even with a decrease in the mileage rate, with the rate proposed by Girtz, the local government would still collect $9.4 million more than last year in property taxes. As could be due to rising property values, individual homeowners may still not see a decrease in their property taxes.
The recommended budget estimates that nearly $83 million in revenue will be collected from property taxes, an increase of 13% from the nearly $73.5 million last year.
The recommended budget would see housing and development receive the largest increase in funding with a 37% increase, or $1.4 million.
But in terms of the actual dollar amount, the “public administration” area would see the largest increase in funding at $6.5 million. This covers areas such as mayor and commission, director’s office, tax assessors, board of elections, and other general government administration.
Employee compensation is expected to increase again in different areas, including via a 7% salary increase and the possibility of a salary increase of up to 2% for non-public security employees based on performance.
An additional $2.4 million would go to public safety employees due to a phased plan implemented in fiscal year 2021. This plan outlined a phased way to increase public safety salaries in the following years after its creation.
A large portion of those funds — totaling $1.8 million — would be used for 6% raises. A portion of these funds will also go to lateral transfers, which will give agents the opportunity to change positions at the same level, rather than being promoted.
Three public hearings on the proposed budget are scheduled:
- Thursday, May 12 at 5:30 p.m. at 120 West Dougherty St.
- Tuesday, May 17 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 301 College Ave.
- Tuesday, June 7 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 301 College Ave.