City Passes Budget, Feuds Persist
Snellville City Council approved its 2012-2013 budget Friday evening, but not without some challenges.
At a special called meeting Friday, Snellville City Council passed a 2013 budget that only slightly increases expenditures over the previous one.
The approved budget (with $9.6 million in expenditures) was an amendment to the original one proposed by Mayor Kelly Kautz. The mayor's version reflected an 8 percent increase in expenditures over the previous one -- about $9.4 million to $10.2 million, according to a press release from Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts.
"I’m proud of all the time and effort spent by the members of council in conjunction with our city staff that resulted in a good budget and tax relief to our property owners," Wits said in the press release. "In 2010, when we had to raise taxes, I promised that when the time came I would be just as aggressive in cutting taxes.
Thanks to the hard work done on this budget, the minimal reduction in our tax digest and the SDS settlement, we are able to begin delivering on that promise."
The mayor's budget died, however, before she even had a chance to vote on it, according to report in the Gwinnett Daily Post. Neither the mayor, or her long-time supporter Councilman Mike Sabbagh were present at 7 p.m., when the meeting was called to order by Witts, the report said.
By the time the two walked in, council members Witts, Diane Krause, Bobby Howard, and Dave Emanuel were moving on to vote for the budget amendment. That move, however, also deleted some $430,000 meant for the Livable Centers Initiative, according to news reports.
The LCI project includes streetscaping and road improvements for the area of U.S. Highway 78 and Scenic Highway in Snellville (town center). It is partly funded by a 2003 grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission. Condemnation processes already have begun.
At the meeting, Kautz called the deletion of the city funds meant for the project "sloppy," "a mess" and "unprofessional," as quoted in the Gwinnett Daily Post. In addition, Jan Burke, the city's controller was quoted as saying the move was "a material misstatement," mainly because the funds are needed.
"The city will have additional costs that were not anticipated in 2003 when the project was approved, mostly due to time delays and a changing economy," said Councilman Bobby Howard regarding the LCI project. "We have considered these overruns and anticipate a $200,000.00 surplus in this budget that will help recover some of those additional costs."
Witts said the newly approved budget would reduce property taxes by nearly $530,000 and includes an additional savings of $200,000, earmarked for the general fund balance. Also, Witts' press release stated that the service delivery agreement with the county would add $705,000 to city coffers and offset the reductions.
To view previous budgets and the 2013 proposed budgets, check the city of Snellville's website.
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