Savannah City Council wrapped up its Budget Retreat on Thursday after a two-day review of City Manager Stephanie Cutter’s proposed 2015 Budget.
The proposed $347.5 million overall budget includes a $180.8 million General Fund, "and is fully balanced without a tax increase," a City spokesman says.
The City cites these as "highlights" of the proposed 2015 Budget:
· No increase in the property tax rate is being proposed. "The proposed rate of 12.48 mills maintains the lowest property tax rate in the City of Savannah since 1987, and represents a 28% reduction in the property tax rate over the past 17 years," the spokesman says.
· 2014 General Fund revenues are projected to come in 2% higher than what was budgeted this year due to higher than expected sales tax and property tax collections. "This, combined with a nearly $1 million savings realized through across-the-board expenditure reductions, means that the City will not have to draw $4.4 million from its sales tax stabilization fund as was budgeted this year," the spokesman says.
· The City will adopt an estimated $259 million in capital projects in 2015, including planning for a new SPLOST-funded arena and construction of a $27 million upgrade to the President Street Wastewater Treatment Plant to change the way bio-solids are processed.
· The 2015 Budget does not draw from the City’s two General Fund reserve funds – the fund balance and the sales tax stabilization fund — maintaining those unrestricted funds at 21.4% of expenditures.
· 2.5% general wage increase for City employees "to be more competitive with the private sector."
· Fourteen firefighter positions will be added to staff a new fire company in the Bradley Pointe area on Savannah’s southside. The addition will help Savannah Fire maintain its ISO 1 classification.
· Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department’s proposed $70.7 million budget includes funding for Operation Ceasefire, body cameras for all patrol officers, and deployment of new technology called ShotSpotter, which will help police target gunshots in the community.
· The residential sanitation rate – which pays for curbside garbage, recycling, yard waste and bulk item collections and disposal – is proposed to increase $1.50 per month, to $30.50 per month in 2015. "The increase is needed to pay for a $17 million expansion of the City’s landfill, a multi-year project expected to begin in 2015," the spokesman says.
First reading and public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 25. Second Reading and adoption is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 11. The 2015 Proposed Budget can be viewed at www.savannahga.gov/budget