Edited on May 5, 2022 at 5:40 PM: Four numbers were corrected in the section related to the rollback millage rate information. These numbers have been updated to include the corrected figures in bold and the original figures in italics.
Edited on May 20, 2022 at 3:45 PM: The final budget review meeting was changed from Tuesday, May 24 (Election Day) to Thursday, May 26. It was also moved to the City Hall Commission Chamber from 120 W. Dougherty Street.
The Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Mayor’s Recommended Budget for July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023 for the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCGov) has been submitted to the Commission for review. This budget is balanced and includes a General Fund Operating and Capital Budget that totals $166.4 million for FY23, which is 12.1% higher than the FY22 level.
The budget year begins on July 1. In advance of the beginning of the fiscal year, departments and constitutional officials submit operating and capital budget requests for review by the Manager and the Mayor. The Mayor submits a recommended budget to the Commission for review by April 30 each year. The Commission reviews the Mayor’s Recommended Budget and can make any adjustments necessary prior to adopting the budget in June.
The FY23 Mayor’s Recommended Budget proposes a millage rate of 13.20 for property tax year 2022, a 0.50 mill decrease compared to last year’s rate. 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.
Before the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission finalizes the FY23 Budget and sets the 2022 millage rate, Georgia law requires three public hearings to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions on the budget.
Additional specific information on the budget, including the full FY23 Mayor’s Recommended Budget, is available at www.accgov.com/budget. A budget summary section is also available as part of the overall budget document.
The Mayor and Commission approved a Strategic Plan for ACCGov for FY23-FY25 on March 1, 2022. The goals, strategies, and initiatives in this Strategic Plan will help guide budget priorities.
Some of the major items included the Mayor’s Recommended Budget are:
- Expansion of community beautification programs and litter crews in the Central Services Department, to include two additional fulltime positions and the hiring of placements from the Corrections Department’s Transition Center for expanded beautification efforts throughout ACCGov-owned properties and rights of way ($324,000).
- A Vision Zero Coordinator in Transportation & Public Works Department to continue collaboration with the Georgia Department of Transportation in meeting the goal to “envision zero” traffic fatalities and serious injuries throughout Athens-Clarke County ($80,000).
- Addition of an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Training Lieutenant position in the Fire Department to ensure a more responsive EMS apparatus and transition to emergency medical dispatch ability ($70,000).
- A new Digital Services Coordinator position in the Public Information Office to focus on online engagement and outreach initiatives ($20,000, beginning fourth quarter of FY23).
- Implementation of a more modern and responsive work order system for both the Mayor and Commission and the public in general ($50,000).
- The Police Youth Cadet Corp will be re-instituted to provide a pipeline to employment in the Police Department for local high school students. It includes two supervisory positions and 10 part-time positions ($165,000).
- Funds to support nonprofit capacity building to ensure each nonprofit partner has a strong foundation from which to grow and provide optimal services and operations ($250,000).
- A re-organization of the Housing and Community Development Department, including two new positions, to ensure optimal attention to the range of youth, housing, homeless, and related needs that the department supports ($174,000).
- A Comprehensive Plan Administrator in a re-organized Planning Department to allow more time and attention to special projects and Initiatives ($90,000).
- Operational support for Leisure Services for the SPLOST-funded Beech Haven Park project ($156,000).
- Media arts partnerships (music and film) to enhance the strength of our arts community ($50,000).
- The partnership with the Athens Area Homeless Shelter begun in FY22 is extended to ensure that families will experience continuity of care ($200,000).
- Pay scale adjustments at the Athens-Clarke County Library ($200,000).
- Salary and benefit adjustments supporting the Public Defender’s Office ($86,000).
- Full year funding to support the Human Relations Commission approved by the Mayor and Commission during FY22 ($139,000).
- Development of a Leisure Services master plan to ensure adequate attention to the broad range of facilities and programs across the department ($200,000 in FY23 and $250,000 in FY24).
- Repair and maintenance of existing parks facilities at $2.174 million, nearly $2 million above the capital expenditure in FY22.
- Across all funds, the recommended budget will add 24 full-time positions, with 19 of those positions in the General Fund. With the new positions, the total number of ACCGov authorized positions is 1,769. At this level, ACCGov’s ratio of full-time positions to community population remains below 14 per 1,000 citizens.
- Employee compensation (general, non-public safety employees) includes a 7% market increase, along with up to a 2% pay for performance opportunity ($2.2M in the General Fund). In addition, the continued implementation of the structured Public Safety Step Plan is funded with a 6% step pay table increase, along with funding for eligible step increases and lateral transfers ($2.4M in the General Fund).
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 FY23 rollback millage rate is calculated as the millage rate needed to produce the same total revenue on the 2022 tax digest that the FY22 millage rate would have produced had no reassessments or inflationary increases occurred to property such as land, buildings, and improvements.
The recommended 13.20 millage rate for 2022 would increase estimated property tax revenues by 11.97% (corrected from 11.20%) 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 an 11.97% (corrected from 11.20%) 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 FY23 millage rate would be no more than 11.789 mills (corrected from 11.870 mills). The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $300,000 is approximately $155.21 (corrected from $146.30) and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $375,000 is approximately $211.65 (corrected from $199.50).
The Athens-Clarke County Commission is scheduled to adopt the FY23 Budget at their Regular Voting Meeting on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 at 6:00 PM.
Before the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission finalizes the FY23 Budget and sets the 2022 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 FY23 Mayor’s Recommended Budget at a series of meetings.
The upcoming budget-related meetings will take place:
- Tuesday, May 10 – 5:30 PM (following work session items) – Mayor and Commission budget review (at City Hall Commission Chamber) (no public comment)
- Thursday, May 12 – 5:30 PM – Taxpayer's Bill of Rights Public Hearing #1 followed by Mayor and Commission budget review (at 120 Dougherty St, Government Building Auditorium)
- Tuesday, May 17 – 6:00 PM – Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Public Hearing #2 and FY23 Budget public hearing (at City Hall, Commission Chamber) followed by the Mayor and Commission Agenda Setting Meeting
- Thursday, May 19 – 5:30 PM – Mayor & Commission budget review (at 120 Dougherty St, Government Building Auditorium) (no public comment)
- Thursday, May 26 – 5:30 PM – Mayor & Commission budget review (at City Hall Commission Chamber) (no public comment) [moved from May 24 to May 26 and moved from 120 W. Dougherty Street to City Hall]
- Tuesday, June 7 – 6:00 PM – Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Public Hearing #3 followed by the Mayor & Commission Regular Voting Meeting (at City Hall, Commission Chamber) to adopt the FY23 Budget and 2022 millage rate
The FY23 Mayor’s Recommended Budget can be reviewed on Athens-Clarke County’s Web site at www.accgov.com/budget. More information is available on each meeting agenda at www.accgov.com/agendas or by calling the Clerk of Commission at 706-613-3031.
Copies of the FY23 Mayor’s Recommended Budget will also available for public inspection during normal business hours at the Athens-Clarke County Library at 2025 Baxter Street. Copies will also be available in the Clerk of Commission’s Office in City Hall, 301 College Avenue, in Suite 204 and the Manager’s Office in City Hall, 301 College Avenue, in Suite 303.