The Douglasville City Council held a budget hearing at a special called meeting on Monday, June 4 to present the $30.7 million 2019 Fiscal Year budget.
The mayor, council, and city staff have worked for the last few weeks to finalize the FY19 budget, which includes adjustments to salaries and benefits for city police officers, capital projects, and the establishment of an economic development fund, according to a release from Jason Post, community relations director for the city.
The city is in the process of completing a pay and classification study with Evergreen Solutions. The results and implementation of the study will bring city employees and, particularly, city police officers, to a more competitive level of compensation. The Douglasville Police Department has struggled in recent years to provide competitive salaries for its officers. The new budget will bring the beginning salary for a patrol officer to $44,000. This adjustment puts the department on a comparable level with surrounding agencies and helps with officer retention issues. The FY19 budget has programmed in funds to implement these study recommendations over the next year.
Douglasville has a number of capital plans in the works, and the mayor and council have made certain that the new budget is aimed at completing these plans, according to the release. In the new fiscal year, the city will establish an economic development fund. This fund will be a combination of SPLOST dollars and general fund dollars programmed in for the purpose of spurring planned, quality growth that will be an asset to the community and help to strengthen Douglasville’s economic base.
The old mill site clean-up is an important project for the community that will benefit from the economic development fund, the release notes. The city has dedicated funds in the new budget to complete the current environmental study and work toward the clean-up of the mill site for future development. The economic development fund could also be utilized for projects and recommendations resulting from the current North Side Study being conducted in the New Horizons community.
The Downtown Master plan and Douglasville Town Green project have garnered a lot of attention in recent months with the city’s purchase of the former jail property from Douglas County. The $850,000 acquisition is the first step in developing a green space and mixed use office/retail space on the old jail site. This project is proposed to be completed using a combination of SPLOST dollars and general fund reserves.
SPLOST dollars are also helping to complete a number of transportation projects around the city. Street resurfacing projects totaling $2.7 million in SPLOST funds are already underway and are scheduled for completion in the next few months. Results from a city fleet study were presented to council at a recent committee meeting and included suggestions for additional facilities, additional patrol vehicles for the police department, introduction of a vehicle replacement cycle, and long-term plans for the city’s future fleet operations. While the city is utilizing SPLOST dollars to implement some of these recommendations, general fund dollars from the FY19 budget have also been programmed in for fleet improvements.
“Our plan for all of these projects moving forward is to utilize the SPLOST funds for the capital projects and allocate general fund dollars for the on-going operations,” explained City Manager, Marcia Hampton. The total proposed budget of $30.7 million represents an overall increase of 9 percent over the previous fiscal year.
Hampton stated that, “The mayor and council felt that this increase was not only warranted but necessary to ensure the continued delivery of quality city services and public safety programs, to promote quality future development, and to make the most efficient use of incoming SPLOST funds and tax dollars.”
The proposed city budget can be viewed in its entirety on the city’s website at DouglasvilleGA.gov.