By DOUG NURSEThe Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 09/25/07
After much deliberation and some hard choices, the new cities of Milton and Johns Creek have cobbled together their first 12-month budgets.
The two cities, which became legally functional on Dec. 1, have struggled with start-up costs and a shortage of money, some of which is a matter of cash flow, some of which is a matter of just being new.
Both cities' fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
The Milton City Council approved its $17.8 million budget last week and the Johns Creek City Council signed off on its $50 million spending plan on Monday.
The two cities also are scrambling to build up reserves. With demands for improved roads, parks, and other government buildings and no money, Milton and Johns Creek want to sell bonds on the market. But investors might be nervous about the two cities' caps on their property tax rates. One thing that makes municipal bonds attractive is that they almost never default because cities and counties can raise taxes if they have to.
So to allay investor worries, Johns Creek and Milton plan to sink money into their reserves that can be tapped in an emergency.
Both cities have their millage capped at 4.731. Johns Creek adopted a property tax rate of 4.614 mills, the amount set by Fulton County for Johns Creek before cityhood. Milton went ahead and adopted the 4.731 mills.
Milton and Johns Creek set aside a large chunk for CH2M Hill-OMI, the Colorado-based company that was hired to provide most day-to-day municipal services to the public.
When the have-to-have items were covered, the councils were left trying to do the fiscal equivalent of spreading a queen-sized sheet over a king-sized bed. In the end, most of the money left over went for a few road improvements, and projects for which the voters are most hungry.
Here are the highlights for their 2008 budgets:
Budget: $50.25 million
Capital Improvements: $2.29 million
Police start-up costs: $7.09 million
Fire start-up costs: $8.19 million
CH2M Hill-OMI: $17.86 million
Rogers Bridge Road: $90,000
Guard rail repair: $50,000
Parks and Recreation summer camp: $90,000
Traffic light at Seven Oaks Road: $150,000
Budget: $17.82 million
Capital Improvements: $1.92 million
Public Safety (includes police and fire departments): $6.4 million
CH2M Hill-OMI: $6.78 million
Parks and Recreation: $418,000
Park Development $90,000
Recreation and Parks Master Plan: $30,000
Design Guidelines for Highway 9: $30,000
Historic Preservation Ordinance: $20,000
Tree Preservation Ordinance: $10,000
Birmingham at New Providence intersection improvements: $171,000
Freemanville at Providence roads intersection improvements: $208,000