City Manager Stephanie Cutter on Wednesday "proposed to City Council a $364 million 2016 Budget that enhances public safety and road maintenance while remaining fully balanced and structurally sound without a property tax increase," a City spokesman says.
The budget overview came during the first day of City Council’s two-day Budget Retreat at the New Ebenezer Retreat Center in Effingham County.
Among the highlights of the proposed budget, according to the spokesman:
· $364 million consolidated 2016 Budget is "fully balanced"
· 15 new police officer positions "to combat street-level drug activity."
· 15 new firefighter positions
· Full-year funding of public safety salary increases
· No property tax rate increase, "maintaining the lowest millage rate (12.48 mills) in the City of Savannah since 1987."
· 2 new positions to enhance street sweeping
· New equipment to "enhance pothole repair services."
· Funding for new "Ambassador Program to enhance public safety, maintenance and visitor services downtown."
· $82 million capital spending plan. Projects expected to begin in 2016 include:
New Cultural Arts Center
New Arena and Canal District development
Waters Avenue streetscape redevelopment
Major streetscape enhancements on Broughton, River, Bay streets
New Center for Family Resources and Services on Pennsylvania Avenue
Habersham Village drainage improvements
Development of former Coastal Empire Fairgrounds into mixed-use housing, neighborhood retail and regional recreation complex
New Coffee Bluff Road sidewalks and enhancements to Joseph Tribble Park.
“The City of Savannah has a lot to be proud of,” City Manager Stephanie Cutter said. “We are making all of these improvements, and we are doing it without raising the property tax rate, which is impressive.”
The budget is balanced with an expected:
· 1.2 percent increase ($811,680) in property tax revenue
· 2.7 percent increase ($1,016,540) in sales tax revenue
· 4.8 percent increase ($450,000) in hotel/motel tax revenue
· $2.3 million decrease in reimbursements from Chatham County for Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department costs "due to a renegotiated intergovernmental agreement."
The proposed budget can be viewed online at www.savannahga.gov/budget, or in-person at the Clerk of Council’s Office in City Hall or at the Bull Street Library.
Public hearings on the 2016 Proposed Budget will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, and 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10, in Council Chambers in City Hall. The budget is scheduled for adoption Dec. 10.