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Avondale Estates to see a balanced 2021 budget, increases 2022 proposed budget slightly

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Avondale Estates to see a balanced 2021 budget, increases 2022 proposed budget slightly

Avondale Estates City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission is set to vote on the 2021 amended budget and 2022 proposed budget on Monday. The city saw a slight increase in revenues and expenditures in the 2021 amended budget, although the budget remained balanced.

In the 2021 adopted budget, the city projected receiving about $4.23 million in revenues and anticipated expenditures to be at the same amount. The proposed 2021 amended budget project revenues and expenditures will be about $48,000 more than the adopted budget.

“Overall, though, the expenses balanced out with increases and decreases and the revenues were a little bit higher. As far as I can tell at this point, I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Assistant City Manager Paul Hanebuth said at the Oct. 13 City Commission meeting.

The largest change in the budget came from the recycling cost in the sanitation fund.

“Recycling, we had originally budgeted $65,000, but after releasing the RFP at the beginning of the year, the best response that we got to that was significantly higher. The actual cost for that is going to be about $104,000 for this year,” Hanebuth said.

One major change in the parks department was related to trees. The city spent more money this year on tree maintenance and removal as a result of the tree inventory.

“That’s probably the biggest single difference, other than recycling, from what we were planning a year ago. We had originally budgeted $23,000 for that, and I’m now projecting in excess of $50,000,” Hanebuth said. 

Repair and maintenance for sanitation and police vehicles increased this year, as well. The sanitation vehicle fleet is old, Hanebuth said. As a first priority in April, the city purchased a knuckle boom truck, instead of a new garbage truck, to help collect yard waste.

“From my point of view, I think that was a good call, but it also means that our garbage trucks are a year older,” Hanebuth said. “There are still hydraulic problems from the time when they were used improperly to collect yard waste.”

The city has been moving toward using hybrid vehicles for the police department, however, gas expenses, and repair and maintenance expenses increased this year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the department launched a three-month take home car pilot program, which was extended indefinitely.

“We’re trying to reduce the chance of COVID transmission that way,” Hanebuth said. “But the trade-off for that is that that takes the gas and repair and maintenance a little higher than what we’d expected a year ago.” 

In the public works budget, a line item for traffic engineering increased from $490 in 2020 to $8,400 in 2021. The increase was due to a priority of the new public works director to upgrade traffic signs in the city.

The salary expenses in the parks department were adjusted slightly as the city hired contract labor through Georgia Works.

“The original adopted budget had us spending right at $300,000 for these three categories — salaries, contract labor and overtime,” Hanebuth said at the Nov. 10 City Commission meeting. “If you look at the amended budget, the contract labor part of that is larger, but it has virtually eliminated overtime and reduced the amount that we spent on salaries so that the total for all three is lower than what we originally planned for.”

Public works building repair and maintenance was higher than expected, as well, due to replacing an air conditioning unit over the summer. The city also allocated about $275,000 for repairs to the public works building, and that cost is included in the capital budget.

Other expenses that were higher than anticipated, included the city’s defined contribution retirement plan. Over the summer, the City Commission moved toward providing a 100% retirement match for employees, which increased the expense from about $10,000 to about $45,000.

The revenues and expenditures in the 2022 proposed budget are projected to be about $500,000 more than the 2021 amended budget. Part of that increase includes adding four new staff positions — a capital projects manager, a stormwater manager, a landscape manager and an administrative analyst.

Avondale Estates lacks a stormwater manager since the city has recently begun addressing stormwater in a holistic fashion. The city has also been without a landscape manager for a number of years, City Manager Patrick Bryant said at the Dec. 8 City Commission meeting.

“We think the addition of those two positions will help us execute our public works program, especially with establishing standard operating procedures for everyday maintenance with regard to pruning, cutting, planting, and maintaining greenspace, as well as routine maintenance of stormwater infrastructure,” Bryant said. 

The stormwater manager position would be funded through the public works department and the stormwater fund.

“What we envision for the stormwater manager, would be somebody who spent half their time directly on stormwater tasks and the other half of the time managing the streets, including patching potholes, fixing broken sidewalks and curbs, reporting problems to the county when it’s their responsibility, and inspecting signs and replacing them as needed,” Hanebuth said at the Dec. 8 meeting.

The stormwater manager would have one person assigned to work under them. This would be filled by upgrading an existing position in the parks department, so the salary would be covered through the parks department and the stormwater fund.

The capital projects manager would assist the executive staff in managing projects from start to finish and would do tasks such as liaising with engineers, developing RFPs and bid packages, evaluating the bids as they come in, and acting as the project manager for all capital projects. This position would be funded by the public works department.

Although, Bryant said the capital projects manager’s compensation package could be offset by reimbursements from the Downtown Development Authority.

The administrative analyst would be a support system for all administrative functions of the city. This position would be funded through the administration department.

If the positions are budgeted for, the city would develop the job descriptions and the City Commission would determine where they fit into the classification and compensation study.

At the Dec. 8 meeting, Hanebuth said personnel costs are the largest part of the budget and that’s something the city can anticipate for the time being.

“We need to try to get the personnel in place to handle our growing needs, so that they don’t fall by the wayside,” Hanebuth said.

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