Decatur is investing in city employees in fiscal year 2023-2024Decatur City Hall. Photo by Zoe Seiler.
Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission approved the city’s $39 million budget on June 20. The fiscal year 2023-2024 budget includes various items related to city employees, including salary increases and hiring new positions.
“Last year, we talked about the budget being bold and while certainly I believe that the budget that has been presented continues in that vein, even more so than being bold, I think about this budget in particular as truly an investment,” City Manager Andrea Arnold said.
She added that it’s an investment in the city’s employees, the community, children and youth, the strategic plan, and capital infrastructure.
The total general fund revenues and expenditures are about $39 million. The FY 2023-2024 budget is about $7 million higher than the revised FY 2022-2023 budget. Personnel services costs have increased by about $5.5 million compared to the last fiscal year.
The budget also incorporates recommendations from the city’s compensation and compression study, which include bringing employees up to a living wage, remediating compressed salaries, and increasing salaries for full-time employees by at least 8.35%.
According to the compensation study, salaries for city employees on average were 7.6% behind the market. The salary increases went into effect on Monday, July 3.
The budget also plans for a reorganization of the public works and community and economic development departments, as well as debuting the new parks and recreation department.
Permitting and inspection operations are currently housed in public works, and that will be moved under the community and economic development department.
The building official, administrative assistant, code enforcement officer, Safebuilt staff, engineering inspector, and the arborists will shift from public works to the community and economic development department and work closely with the planning staff.
“This is similar to an organization that we had in place some years ago,” Arnold said. “Public works will remain with the traditional facilities, fleet, grounds, streets, maintenance operations, plus stormwater and engineering, and of course, parks and [recreation].”
The Active Living and Children and Youth Services divisions will be combined to become the parks and recreation department. The transfer of the children and youth services budget from a separate fund to the general fund accounts for 35% of the overall budget increase.
The parks and recreation department will reside under the public works department, along with facilities maintenance and grounds maintenance.
“The idea that those staff, those conversations will all be under the responsibility of an assistant city manager for public works, which I do believe will help with that goal of improving maintenance of our park properties and our facilities,” Arnold said.
Here are some other highlights of the proposed budgets:
– Use of about $4.1 million in fund balance from the general fund to stay within the city’s financial policy guidelines.
– Staff-related costs make up 61.6% of the budget.
– Multiple position reclassifications and eleven additional full-time positions.
– Next steps for the Equity Action Plan, Downtown Master Plan, Parks and Recreation Master Plan, Storm Water Master Plan and Clean Energy Plan.
– Creation of a community energy fund and a school zone camera community safety program fund to account for associated projects.
– Funding earmarked for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
This year’s Budget as Art Collection features original artwork by local artist, Sanithna Phansavanh, titled “Cultivate (2023).”
“The artist uses botanicals that are tended and nurtured to represent caring stewardship,” Arnold wrote in the budget message. “Elected officials and staff share a commitment and responsibility of stewardship for our community and our city organization. The proposed budget cultivates values and priorities that allow us to serve all people in the City of Decatur equitably and with compassion.”
This is the third installment of the Budget as Art Collection. The city began incorporating art into the budget in fiscal year 2021-2022.
“An effective budget is a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications tool,” Arnold told Decaturish. “Over the years, the city has focused on the budget as a communications tool and has worked to make the budget more appealing to community members, all of whom have a stake in the outcome of the annual budget. Incorporating art into the budget document is a way to highlight the vision and values reflected in the city’s budget. And, hopefully, the cover art will invite more people to read what is behind the cover.”
To view the budget documents and work session presentation, click here.
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