You cannot watch the news on television or open a newspaper without hearing that another government is struggling financially. The downturn in the economy has had a negative impact on the financial condition of all governments - Federal, States, Counties and Cities. Lately there have been several articles written about Milton's financial picture. These articles, with their "eye-catching" headlines have tended to paint a very negative picture concerning the City of Milton's financial stability.
Lately I have had several people ask me "How is the city of Milton financially?" and "Are we going to make it?". The short answer is yes - Milton will make it financially. A longer answer is that Milton, like every other city you hear about, is experiencing a decrease in revenue collections. Over seventy-five percent (75%) of our annual reoccurring revenue is derived from three sources which can be impacted by a downtown in the economy: Real property tax, business and occupation tax and sales tax. Real property tax collections are slower this fiscal year and the properties themselves are no longer increasing in value at the rate they have in prior years. Business and occupation tax collections through March 2009 are down from prior years. Statewide sales tax collections are also down for this fiscal year. When the City of Milton was formed, budgets and financial models were structured to incorporate worst case scenarios. The five year projection had Milton making up for lost time given the lack of resources that were provided to our area when those services were provided by Fulton County. The Milton City Council knew that we would have to play catch up no mater what the economic conditions were. Being a new city, we have always had a very lean budget. After incorporation, are efforts have been concentrated on providing the most essential services - police, fire, roads - for our citizens at a higher standard than they were previously receiving from Fulton County. We have not had the luxury of implementing non-essential programs that other well established cities provide. Many of these programs, although very worthwhile and beneficial to residents, are often difficult to scale back during lean years. Our staff is diligently monitoring and revising the anticipated revenue collections for this fiscal year. We, as a City Council, are working with our City Staff to provide services to you, our residents and business owners, at the highest standard and in the most efficient manner possible.
Even with the current financial stresses of our city, Milton residents show us what can be done with a little effort. This weekend, a group of volunteers, with limited financial resources from the city, will start the process of cleaning up Birmingham Park so that our residents can begin to enjoy this beautiful and scenic resource. This process will certainly take some time and will not occur overnight, I believe that efforts like these show us what Milton is and what the citizen's of Milton can accomplish.
If you and your family would like to volunteer, please visit the City of Milton website at www.cityofmiltonga.us or call the City at (678) 242-2500 for additional information.
If you have ideas of concerns about Milton and our efforts to ensure our financial viability, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for allowing me to serve you and the needs of our community. It is an honor and a privilege to do so.
Karen C. Thurman