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Avondale Estates City Commission to continue discussing operating, capital budgets

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Avondale Estates City Commission to continue discussing operating, capital budgets

(Left to right) Avondale Estates Commissioners Lionel Laratte and Brian Fisher, Mayor Jonathan Elmore and Commissioners Lisa Shortell and Dee Merriam celebrate the State of the City address at the new town green on April 21. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission will meet on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 5:30 p.m. for a work session. The city commission meeting will be held at Avondale Estates City Hall, 21 N. Avondale Plaza, and via Zoom.

During the regular meeting, the city commission will continue discussing the 2023-2024 capital program and 2023 operating budget.

To join the meeting via Zoom, click here. To call in, dial +1-301-715-8592. The webinar ID is 859 7071 2998.

To view the meeting agenda, click here.

Public comments can be made either by attending the meeting in-person or through Zoom.

A few highlights of the 2023 proposed operating budget include:

– The proposed 2023 budget anticipates seeing less revenue compared to 2022. In the 2022 projected budget, the city expects to receive $6.78 million in revenue. The 2023 projects the city receiving $5.289 million, although the 2023 proposed budget does reflect a balanced budget.

– A 3% cost of living adjustment is proposed for city employees, but merit raises are not included in the budget.

“The reason being is that we need to rewrite our employee policy manual,” City Manager Patrick Bryant said at the Oct. 12 city commission meeting. “Our current method of evaluating employees and assigning merit increases to them is way too subjective and varies greatly from department to department. Before we get back to doing merit raises, I think we need to standardize that process a lot more, make it equitable and fair. In lieu of that, I’ve proposed that additional 3% COLA.”

– There are a couple of placeholders in the budget for staff positions, including the finance director and finance officer, which the city is currently hiring for.

Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher encouraged the city to take a deep dive into its operating budget to make sure the city is tightening its belt where appropriate.

“I say that because I feel like we are heading into a recessionary period where inflation has been gutting a lot of people and communities, and we are starting to see with rising interest rates and other things that we’re going to enter a period where less revenue is going to be collected,” Fisher previously said.

The city has established a three-year capital program for 2022, 2023 and 2024.

There are five buckets of money the city uses to direct funding toward capital projects – the Urban Redevelopment Agency, American Rescue Plan funding, special purpose local option sales tax funding, the stormwater fund, and the capital fund.

In the draft capital budget, the URA column is the bond anticipation note, which is the funding for the Town Green. It could also be used for stormwater or the street grid within the downtown or paving Franklin Street from olive to Oak.

Avondale Estates received about $1.18 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding. The projects anticipated to use ARPA funding are repaving Laredo Drive, repaving Pine Street and replacing stormwater pipe, repaving Parry Street, as well as general repaving of roads, sidewalks and curbs.

Funding for stormwater goes toward the city’s stormwater priority projects that are identified in the stormwater master plan. The capital budget includes $1.6 million in expenses for the North Woods project, the hydrologic model, the stormwater project at Washington and Pine, Dunwick and the Kensington phase two project.

In terms of SPLOST funding, the city will receive $929,000 by the end of the year, and expects to receive another $750,000 in SPLOST revenue through its end date, which is March 2024, Bryant said. SPLOST funding can go toward public safety vehicles and equipment, public works equipment and infrastructure, and paving.

If the board approves the proposed operating budget, about $2 million would be transferred from the unassigned fund balance to the capital fund.

The city commission will also discuss holiday plans for the community and criteria for city-sponsored events.

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