As reported in the Athens-Banner Herald, Athens-Clarke County commissioners will be voting on a proposed $235.4 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The new budget is an increase of almost $17 million over the current fiscal year’s spending plan.
Their meeting will also include a final public hearing on the budget proposal for the following fiscal year.
The spending plan for next fiscal year calls for $198.4 million in operating funds for the county government, with an additional $37 million allocated to capital projects including roadway maintenance, computer upgrades, vehicle replacement and similar initiatives.
The property tax millage rate, a fractional multiplier applied to the taxable value of a given piece of property to arrive at a tax bill, will not change so most property owners shouldn’t see any increase in their property tax bill.
According to a summary of the budget proposal, property taxes will provide almost $55.3 million in operating funds for the fiscal year beginning July 1, with sales taxes projected to yield $22.4 million and other taxes expected to bring in about $26.3 million.
As outlined in the mayor’s letter, part of the major increases in operating expenditures proposed for the upcoming fiscal year is a $1 million outlay to provide county employees with a 1 percent pay increase.
An additional $525,000 is set aside to help full-time employees offset health insurance premium increases.
Additional major funding initiatives include $200,000 to assist efforts of a public-private working group endeavoring to attract sustainable commercial air service to Athens-Ben Epps Airport, of which two major air carriers are interested, and $75,000 to assist in the implementation of initiatives that emerge from the planning of Envision Athens, a consulting firm that has involved hundreds of people in forming a 20-year vision for the community’s future.
A $245,000 outlay to expand Athens Transit service into currently underserved areas in Athens-Clarke County is also being proposed.
In other budget-related action, commissioners are scheduled to set the salaries of the three “charter officers,” county personnel whose roles are specifically noted in the charter that created the Athens-Clarke County government.
Those positions, and their salaries, are listed in an agenda report for Tuesday’s meeting, showing the county manager at $174,442, the county attorney at $168,773, and the internal auditor at $82,916.