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Higher-than-expected revenues put Milton in good shape for '22

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MILTON, Ga. — Officials in Milton acted on some good news Sept. 20 when the City Council adjusted its current budget to reflect an additional $948,000 in revenue over what had been anticipated.

At its Monday meeting, the council reviewed a staff report from Assistant City Manager Bernadette Harvill detailing an array of revenue streams that have been pulling in more money than was originally anticipated.

The list includes an increase of $400,000 to expected local option sales tax revenues and another $165,000 in real estate transfer and intangible tax collections. Those collections helped the city post a revenue surplus of right at $1 million for the year.

Another major factor in the surplus was the cost savings — more than half a million dollars — realized by bringing building inspection and permitting services in-house rather than contracting with third-party vendors.

As has been its practice since incorporation, the surplus money will be carried over to the next year’s budget to pay for one-time expenditures like park land acquisition, road improvements and building repairs. Overall, the city is transferring $9.5 million to the capital projects fund for the upcoming year.

Looking ahead to the 2022 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, the City Council adopted an operating budget of $35.9 million, a decline of 9 percent from the 2021 amended budget.

Milton sets 2022 property tax rate

It anticipates citywide total revenues at $53.3 million to pay for general operations, a host of special revenue funds and six capital projects funds. Revenues come mostly through property and sales taxes, fees and grants.

The city is expecting some $14.8 million in American Rescue Plan for COVID relief, but Harvill said the city has not received final guidance from the federal government on how those funds should be applied.

“Once we do have final guidance, we will come before you to have an approved plan on how to spend those funds,” she said.

One suggestion, Harvill said, would be to apply the money for the buildout of a new active park complex once the property has been identified.

The new budget includes average salary increases for staff, primarily aimed at emergency services, like police and fire, and administration. The salary adjustments were based on a comparative study this year that drew from 15 neighboring cities and counties.

Overall, the staff recommended:

• Increasing police pay by 8 percent and moving the beginning pay table up by 7 percent.

• Increasing fire pay by 6 percent and move pay table up by 5 percent.

• Increasing administrative pay by 7 percent and adjust beginning pay tables up by 6 percent.

• Increase department directors pay by 3 percent and bring a few positions in line with market averages.

The total pay adjustments are expected to cost just shy of $600,000.

Harvill said the city still has about $5 million remaining in its Greenspace Bond Fund for the purchase of park land.

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