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Avondale Estates City Commission approves 2023 budget amendment

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Avondale Estates City Commission approves 2023 budget amendment

The Avondale Estates City Commission discussed the 2023 and 2024 budgets, as well as stormwater projects during its meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at city hall. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission, at its Sept. 27 regular meeting, approved an amendment to the 2023 operating budget.

The amendment anticipates the total revenues and expenditures to be about $4.8 million. The 2023 adopted budget was $5.2 million. The city will receive slightly more property tax revenue than originally estimated. The city anticipates receiving about $3.5 million in property tax revenue, an increase from $3.4 million.

City Manager Patrick Bryant said at the Sept. 13 city commission meeting that the city anticipates transferring less money into the capital fund. The adopted budget noted that $559,600 would be transferred to the capital fund and the amendment reflects a transfer of $404,500.

“We believe there will be further expenditure savings than we have indicated…which will allow us to be able to transfer a larger amount of resources to the capital fund at the end of the year if the board so chooses,” Bryant said.

He added that the expected revenue will likely come in as predicted.

“We don’t anticipate many changes there to that amendment. The bulk of the reduction of revenue is the reduction in the collections of fines and forfeitures,” Bryant said. “The final tax digest for 2023 was a little higher than we anticipated, which did not necessitate a revision downward to projected property tax collections even with the millage rate decrease.”

Bryant said at a previous city commission meeting that the police department is no longer aggressively pursuing traffic violations along U.S. 278, which has reduced the number of citations issued.

In other business, during the work session following the regular meeting, the city commission discussed the draft 2024 operating budget and capital program. The draft 2024 operating budget proposes about $5 million in revenue and expenditures.

“There are a lot of assumptions that have yet to be considered and implemented into the budget draft, and we felt that we would do a better job educating the public and bringing everybody along if we implemented those changes throughout the budget process rather than debut with them,” Bryant said at the Sept. 27 meeting.

The budget does not currently take into account any efforts to diversify the city’s revenue, nor compensation adjustments for city employees. Some expenditures were also calculated using trend analysis.

The capital fund, however, begins with the ending balance of the previous fiscal year. The capital budget will begin in 2024 with about $5.7 million in revenue. The city anticipates receiving about $12.7 million in revenue for the capital projects budget in 2024 and 2025 bringing the total revenue to about $18.4 million.

There are a few different funding sources that make up the capital project budget. One funding source is the city’s urban redevelopment agency. It is left blank in the budget because “it is still a fund that the city and its urban redevelopment agency could potentially use to fund capital projects in the future,” Bryant said.

“At the end of this year, the expectation is that no funds remaining in the URA fund will be available for expenditure,” he added. “All of those funds are scheduled to be spent prior to the issuance of the bond to repay the BAN not. We anticipate the bond issuance to be in November.”

Remaining funds that can come from the BAN will be used for the North Woods rain garden project, which will free up additional resources in the stormwater fund.

Avondale Estates still has all of its American Rescue Plan Act funding available. The city received about $1.2 million in APRA funding. The budget proposes spending about $1.15 million of the city’s APRA funds.

“Given the fact that we are a municipality that received less than a $10 million allocation of APRA funds from the federal government, our ability to use those funds is quite broad,” Bryant said.

Projects include phase two of the Town Green, which is the transition from the commercial development to the park. Fabric Developers will propose that landscaping transition in the next month or so to the city commission.The city has allocated $250,000 for that project.

There is also a carry over project of $400,000 to design and construct new plazas along U.S. 278. Other budget items include the potential purchase of public works or police vehicles, a branding project, conducting a citywide survey, implementing a new financial software and redesigning the city website.

“After all those expenses are made, we are anticipating an additional $65,000-$66,000 of ARPA money to remain,” Bryant said.

The stormwater fund is anticipated to begin 2024 with about $766,000. The city will receive additional stormwater fund revenue in 2024 and 2025, bringing the stormwater fund to about $1.2 million. The total expenditures in the stormwater fund add up to about $1.2 million.

“This does take into account project operating expenditures and those have already been subtracted out of those revenues,” Bryant said.

Stormwater projects to be done in 2024 and 2025 include preparing for emergency repairs, completing the remaining stormwater priority projects at Washington and Pine, Dunwick Drive and Kensington Road – and creating a stormwater green infrastructure grant program.

“The other expenditure that we are proposing is a new capital project, which would be a green infrastructure grant that the city would provide to property owners to perform stormwater abatement work on their own properties,” Bryant said. “We’re recommending an allocation of $100,000 for that program.”

Funding from the special purpose local option sales tax is also included in the capital projects budget. SPLOST I will expire in March, and SPLOST II will begin in April if it is approved by voters this November.

“We have been keeping a pretty good pace of spending our SPLOST dollars as we receive them, however, we know we are going to go into next year with $186,000 in SPLOST revenue that we’ve already received still in the fund, and we anticipate collecting another $144,300 throughout the remaining duration of the SPLOST I revenue period,” Bryant said.

SPLOST I projects are limited to transportation and public safety. SPLOST I projects include paying the remaining balance of a contract for security cameras and door security systems at city facilities, repaving Pine Street, and creating a parking area on CSX right of way on Pine Street.

“That would take care of all of our resources available for SPLOST I,” Bryant said.

For SPLOST II, the city anticipates receiving about $4.3 million in funding and is expecting to get another $2 million in intergovernmental revenue from DeKalb County. The city can use SPLOST II road or stormwater infrastructure.

“We have the remaining priority projects in our stormwater priority plan that would be the phase two and phase three of the Dunwick project and the Kensington project, plus three additional projects that we are planning to move to concept design for. Those projects would be Wiltshire at Sussex, Wiltshire at Berkeley and Lakeshore and Hess [Drive],” Bryant said.

The city also proposes using SPLOST II funds to replace Franklin Street and construct new downtown roads. The budget proposes spending about $6.3 million in SPLOST II funding.

The final revenue source for the capital projects budget is the capital fund. The grant funding the city has received for the U.S. 278 complete street project is in the capital fund.

“The revenue sources into this fund are coming from general fund transfers at year-end, the unassigned fund balance transfer that the [city commission] authorized in the previous year, and grant reimbursements,” Bryant said.

Expenditures in the capital fund are upgrades to Fletcher Park, construction of the U.S. 278 project, paving and sidewalk repairs, and adding more office space on the second floor of city hall. The budget proposes anticipates about $9.2 million in revenue and proposes about $8.5 million in expenditures.

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