Thursday, September 09, 2010

Milton approves 2011 spending plan.

By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Milton city officials passed the 2011 budget Wednesday -- the first spending plan in which citizens can track every penny.

The city, founded four years ago, has been using a private firm to handle most municipal services until now. Under the old contract, the city paid the company a lump sum to run finance, public works and other primary functions. Now, expenses for those services are broken down to the dime.

The new budget calls for $17.4 million in spending, down about $400,000 from last year.

Officials earlier voted to keep the property tax rate steady, 4.731 mills, the same as in past years. Property taxes are expected to generate $8.6 million this fiscal year, enough to fund about half the budget. The city will get another $3.5 million from sales taxes. The balance of revenue comes from franchise fees and business and insurance taxes.

Milton's parting with the firm should save the city about $1.4 million, said City Manager Chris Lagerbloom. The company's contract called for a fee of $8.2 million this year.

The company, CH2M Hill-OMI, still provides services to Johns Creek and Sandy Springs, north Fulton's other two new cities.

Milton still hires out some of its work. Labor for public works costs the city about $540,000 annually. The city also contracts for a planning reviewer and building inspector and a part-time traffic engineer.

However, by assuming administration of public works, the city expects to save 24 percent in costs by hiring their own supervisors and bidding out projects.

The new budget also calls for hiring one new police officer for a total cost of $60,376, not including a patrol car. The police department represents about 14 percent of the budget, about $2.5 million. The force consists of 32 full-time employees, 16 of them patrol officers.

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