Updated 5/22/23 - The Mayor and Commission has confirmed an FY24 Budget Review meeting for Tuesday, May 23 at 5:30 PM at City Hall, 301 College Avenue. The meeting had been listed as "if needed" and initially moved to the Dougherty Street Government Building Auditorium, but will be held in City Hall.
The Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Mayor’s Recommended Budget for July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024 for the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCGov) has been submitted to the Commission for review. This budget is balanced and includes a General Fund Operating and Capital Budget that totals $184.9 million for FY24, which is 11.1% higher than the FY23 level.
The budget year begins on July 1. In advance of the beginning of the fiscal year, departments and constitutional officials submit operating and capital budget requests for review by the Manager and the Mayor. The Mayor submits a recommended budget to the Commission for review by April 30 each year. The Commission reviews the Mayor’s Recommended Budget and can make any adjustments necessary prior to adopting the budget in June.
The FY24 Mayor’s Recommended Budget proposes a millage rate of 13.10 for property tax year 2023 - no change from the current rate. Each mill of this rate produces $1 of taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property value as determined by the Tax Assessor’s Office.
Additional specific information on the budget, including the full FY24 Mayor’s Recommended Budget, is available at www.accgov.com/budget. A budget summary section is also available as part of the overall budget document. The goals, strategies, and initiatives in the Mayor and Commission’s current Strategic Plan for FY23 – FY25 will also help to guide budget priorities.
Some of the major items included in the Mayor’s Recommended Budget are:
- An additional $2.1 million in the Sheriff’s Jail budget for medical services for in-custody residents. This funding is to account for the annual cost for the new contract approved by the Commission on February 7, 2023. In addition, a Medical Contract Compliance Officer position has been added in the Sheriff’s Office to assist in managing this new contract.
- Funding for the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program ($300k), along with TSPLOST and previously approved funding, to address the backlog of requests over the next couple of years.
- Firefighters/Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) for ladder trucks. $200k adds three fulltime positions to increase staffing on ladder trucks to national standards. This is the first year of a three-year phase-in to add a total of nine positions to support ACCGov’s three ladder trucks.
- Fire – Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Captains (3). $148k (half year funding) to provide EMS supervision to each Fire Department shift.
- Police - Real Time Crime Center. $100k funding of software to support analysis of law enforcement datasets, including videos, to improve investigative activities.
- Funding for unpaved roads ($200k) and railroad crossing improvements ($200k) to address remaining county-wide needs, address safety improvements. and match any federal dollars.
- $150k for the Community Energy Fund project to initiate this program a year earlier.
- Continued funding ($75k) for the clean tools initiative to replace ACCGov’s gas powered tools with electric powered tools and $75k to continue corridor beautification initiatives.
- Increase of Community Events Programs in partnership with the Athens Downtown Development Authority, as shared time in public events is a health-enhancing element of Athens’ social and cultural scene ($120k total via Hotel-Motel revenue).
- Prefunding a new Community Partnership Program ($570k) to provide funding to community partner agencies through a competitive grant process during FY24 with funding beginning in FY25.
- Employee compensation is targeted for a 4% market increase along with up to a 1% pay for performance opportunity for each employee in the Unified Plan (non-public safety) ($1.6M). In addition, the structured Public Safety Step Plan is funded with a 3% pay table increase ($825k) and an additional $495k to fund pay increases for scheduled step increases.
- Continued annual funding for employee benefits includes General Fund increases of $381k for Health Insurance, $526k for Retiree Health and $825k for Pension funding. In addition, this budget includes one-time support of $750k to both the Health Insurance Fund for employees and the OPEB Fund (retiree health) to stabilize those fund balances.
As the Tax Assessor's Office updates the estimated market value of taxable property – called the tax digest – Georgia law requires local governments to calculate a "rollback" millage rate. The FY24 rollback millage rate is calculated as the millage rate needed to produce the same total revenue on the 2023 tax digest that the FY23 millage rate would have produced had no reassessments or inflationary increases occurred to property such as land, buildings, and improvements.
The recommended 13.10 millage rate for 2024 would increase estimated property tax revenues by 15.38% over the rollback millage rate. This increase in revenue over the rollback millage rate is due to inflationary growth or reassessment growth in the market value of existing real property.
This does not mean all property owners will see a 15.38% increase in their property taxes. Individual taxes are based on the current assessed value of real property that may remain the same, increase, or decrease depending on the market value of each parcel of property.
Without this tentative property tax revenue increase, the FY24 millage rate would be no more than 11.354 mills. The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $300,000 is approximately $165.87 and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $375,000 is approximately $261.90.
The Athens-Clarke County Commission is scheduled to adopt the FY24 Budget at their Regular Voting Meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at 6:00 PM.
Before the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission finalizes the FY23 Budget and sets the 2023 millage rate, Georgia law requires three public hearings to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions on the increase. In addition to these three required public hearings, the Athens-Clarke County Commission is scheduled to review the FY23 Mayor’s Recommended Budget at a series of meetings.
The upcoming budget-related meetings will take place:
- Tuesday, May 9 – 5:30 PM (following any work session items) – Mayor and Commission budget review at 301 College Avenue, City Hall Commission Chamber (no public comment)
- Thursday, May 11 – 5:30 PM – Taxpayer's Bill of Rights Public Hearing #1 (public may comment) followed by Mayor and Commission budget review at 120 Dougherty Street, Government Building Auditorium
- Tuesday, May 16 – 6:00 PM – Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Public Hearing #2 and FY24 Budget public hearing (public may comment) at 301 College Avenue, City Hall Commission Chamber followed by the Mayor and Commission Agenda Setting Meeting
- Thursday, May 18 – 5:30 PM – Mayor & Commission budget review at 120 Dougherty Street, Government Building Auditorium (no public comment)
- Tuesday, May 23 (if needed - confirmed) – 5:30 PM – Mayor & Commission budget review at City Hall, 301 College Avenue (no public comment) - confirmed for City Hall
- Tuesday, June 6 – 6:00 PM – Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Public Hearing #3 (public may comment) followed by the Mayor & Commission Regular Voting Meeting at 301 College Avenue, City Hall Commission Chamber to adopt the FY24 Budget and 2023 millage rate
Budget review meetings and Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Public Hearings will be streamed live online and available for on-demand viewing at www.accgov.com and on the ACCGov pages on YouTube (www.youtube.com/accgov) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/accgov). Meetings held at City Hall will also be broadcast live and rebroadcast on ACTV Cable Channel 180.
The FY24 Mayor’s Recommended Budget can be reviewed at www.accgov.com/budget. More information is available on each meeting agenda at www.accgov.com/agendas or by calling the Clerk of Commission at 706-613-3031.
A copy of the FY24 Mayor’s Recommended Budget will also available for public inspection during normal business hours at the Athens-Clarke County Library at 2025 Baxter Street. Copies will also be available in the Clerk of Commission’s Office in City Hall, 301 College Avenue, in Suite 204 and the Manager’s Office in City Hall, 301 College Avenue, in Suite 303.