The Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Mayor’s Recommended Budget for July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 has been submitted to the Commission for review. This budget is balanced maintaining current services and includes a General Fund Operating Budget of $129.2 million for FY19, which is $4.3 million or 3.5% above the FY18 Budget.
The FY19 Mayor’s Recommended Budget proposes a millage rate of 13.95 for property tax year 2018, which is the same level as FY18. Each mill of this rate produces $1 of taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property value as determined by the Tax Assessor's Office.
Strategic Commitments and initiatives agreed to by the Mayor and Commission at their most recent annual retreat helped to guide the development of the FY19 Mayor's Recommended Budget. Some of the major items included in this budget are:
- $172,900 operating support for SPLOST funded facilities, in particular maintenance and management of the expanded Greenway Network.
- $250,000 for the Police Residency Program to provide full year funding for sworn police officers who live within Athens-Clarke County and provide an increase to the monthly allowance from $200 to $300.
- $135,000 for a new Affordable Housing Special Revenue Fund by dedicating the annual Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) revenue from the Athens Housing Authority to this new fund. It will fund a study to review housing community redevelopment options ($30,000) and other programs as directed by the Mayor and Commission.
- $300,000 in the Sheriff’s Office for inmate medical services due to a scheduled contract increase and a rising number of inmates.
- $100,000 for the second year of the Youth Build pilot program.
- $40,000 for a spring community festival/event for the Eastside.
- $2.5 million ($1.8 million in the General Fund) for employee pay increases to begin the implementation of the current pay study, once finalized and approved.
- For the first time since FY08 the General Fund Budget does not budget the use of fund balance for operating expenses, in line with ACCGOV Fiscal Policy to finance all current expenditures with current revenues.
- The recommended budget will add four full-time positions, increasing the total number of authorized positions to 1,669. At this level, the Unified Government’s ratio of full-time positions to community population remains below 14 per 1,000 citizens.
As the Tax Assessor's Office updates the estimated market value of taxable property - called the tax digest - Georgia law requires local governments to calculate a "rollback" millage rate. The FY19 rollback millage rate is calculated as the millage rate needed to produce the same total revenue on the 2018 tax digest that the FY18 millage rate would have produced had no reassessments or inflationary increases occurred to property such as land, buildings, and improvements.
The recommended 13.95 millage rate for 2018 would increase estimated property tax revenues by 4.5% over the rollback millage rate. This increase in revenue over the rollback millage rate is due to inflationary growth or reassessment growth in the market value of existing real property.
This does not mean all property owners will see a 4.5% increase in their property taxes. Individual taxes are based on the current assessed value of real property that may remain the same, increase, or decrease depending on the market value of each parcel of property.
Without this tentative property tax revenue increase, the FY19 millage rate would be no more than 13.349 mills. The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $175,000 is approximately $36.06 and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $225,000 is approximately $54.09.
Maintaining the current millage rate of 13.95, a homeowner of an average priced home will continue to pay similar or lower property taxes than many neighboring and similar-sized communities in Georgia. A report comparing tax mills, taxes, and exemptions for Athens-Clarke County and both local and comparably-sized communities is available on the website at www.accgov.com/budget.
The Athens-Clarke County Commission is scheduled to adopt the FY19 Budget at their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. in the Commission Chamber on the second floor of City Hall, 301 College Avenue.
Before the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission finalizes the FY19 Budget and sets the 2018 millage rate, Georgia law requires three public hearings to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions on the increase. In addition to these three required public hearings, the Athens-Clarke County Commission is scheduled to review the FY19 Mayor’s Recommended Budget at a series of meetings.
These budget-related meetings will take place:
- Tuesday, May 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the 120 West Dougherty Street Governmental Building Auditorium (Taxpayer's Bill of Rights public hearing #1 followed by Mayor & Commission regular Work Session – no budget review)
- Thursday, May 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the 120 West Dougherty Street Governmental Building Auditorium (Mayor & Commission budget review - no public comment)
- Monday, May 14 at 5:30 p.m. the 120 West Dougherty Street Governmental Building Auditorium (Mayor & Commission budget review - no public comment)
- Tuesday, May 15 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Hall Commission Chamber at 301 College Avenue (Taxpayer's Bill of Rights #2 and FY19 Budget public hearings followed by Mayor & Commission Agenda Setting Session)
- Thursday, May 17 (if needed) at 5:30 p.m. in the 120 West Dougherty Street Governmental Building Auditorium (Mayor & Commission budget review - no public comment)
- Tuesday, June 5 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Hall Commission Chamber at 301 College Avenue (Taxpayer's Bill of Rights public hearing #3 followed by Mayor & Commission Regular Voting Meeting to adopt FY19 Budget and 2018 millage rate)
The FY19 Mayor’s Recommended Budget will be available beginning on Monday, April 30, 2018 and can be reviewed on Athens-Clarke County’s Web site at www.accgov.com/budget.
Copies of the FY19 Mayor's Recommended Budget will also available beginning on Monday, April 30, 2018 for public inspection during normal office hours at the following locations:
- the Clerk of Commission’s Office in City Hall in Suite 204;
- the Manager's Office in City Hall in Suite 303; and
- the Athens-Clarke County Library at 2025 Baxter Street.
A budget summary section is available as part of the overall budget document.