City taking conservative approach to FY21 budget; $1.7M shortfall projected due to pandemic

Rochelle Robinson

The city of Douglasville is facing a budget shortfall as the coronavirus pandemic has diminished some of its revenue sources.

To help reduce the blow of lost revenue, city officials received recommendations from each department with cuts to build the budget for the upcoming 2020-21 fiscal year, which begins in July.

The city faces a $1.7 million shortfall, but during Tuesday’s virtual budget workshop, officials discussed using about $1.4 million from the city’s reserve fund.

Revenue sources for governments across the country have suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenue from property and sales taxes are unknown at this point, according to city officials.

With that in mind, officials took a conservative approach to the next budget.

“The council and I were happy that these meetings could be streamed live, allowing the public to listen in on the conversation, even under these special circumstances,” Mayor Rochelle Robinson said in a released statement. “Our revenue, like other cities across the country, has been greatly affected. Our staff has done a wonderful job being fiscally responsible which has helped minimize the impact of COVID-19 on our budget.”

The city will also utilize its SPLOST funds to keep up with its capital needs. Use of the funds are not expected to disrupt process of current projects, but all new projects for the second half of this calendar year will be put on hold.

Robinson said the 2021 fiscal budget will get the city through the “bare necessities” until the economy recovers and the city is up and running at full capacity.

“Travel and training for elected officials and employees have been put on hold for now, as well as our special events and gatherings,” Robinson said in the statement. “Until we have better clarity on what the financial outlook will be moving forward, it is in the city’s best interest to put these things on hold.”

The proposed budget projects a shortfall of $307,450 in sales tax revenue and an additional reduction of $254,483 in hotel/motel tax reduction. There is also a $600,000 projected reduction in municipal court fines.

Because of the pandemic the city has been able to reduce some expenses like cutting $12,217 from an internship program, $24,000 in election expenses, $160,500 for a West Pines irrigation system and $45,000 for part-time employees for city parks.

The city council will receive the proposed 2021 fiscal year budget during a presentation Thursday, May 7 at a 6 p.m. virtual meeting. On May 14, at a special-called meeting, the council is expected to adopt the budget.

Both meetings will be live-streamed on the city’s website at www.douglasvillega.gov

“The city is taking these conversations very seriously,” Robinson said. “We are making the necessary sacrifices to ensure the solvency of our community and be certain that we continue to provide the services that are essential to all of our citizens.”