Suwanee approves $11.5 million budget for fiscal year 2006-07

SUWANEE - Suwanee residents can expect to pay no more in property taxes the coming fiscal year, city officials announced Thursday.

City Council members approved an $11.5 million balanced budget for fiscal year 2006-07 that begins July 1. Last year's budget was $11.3 million.

Where the money

comes from

Suwanee's millage rate will remain at 5.77 mills, which keeps taxes at the same amount this coming year. Taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessed value of a property by the millage. A mill is one-tenth of a cent.

Suwanee's coffers are growing by about 11 percent, allowing city officials to increase their expenditures by 14 percent without raising taxes. Suwanee annexed 837 parcels of land per year for the last two years. That, combined with rising property values and reassessments, adds 12.7 percent more revenue to the digest through property taxes.

After property taxes, Gwinnett County SPLOST will contribute $1.7 million per year for the next four years. SPLOST funds will support 13 projects, including a pedestrian bridge linking Town Center Park and the Suwanee Creek Greenway, upgrades to the older section of the Greenway, police communications improvements and Police Department expansion.

Where the money goes

Suwanee does not have to dig into its reserves to meet its operating expenses. Millage revenues total 55 percent to pay for operations, 32 percent for open space bonds, 7 percent for current capital and 5 percent spending related to Town Center.

The $9,992,150 budgeted for daily operations shows a 14 percent increase over last year representing 39 percent of the total budget. Other major expenditures include $252,000 for technology improvements in the Police Department, an $118,000 salary raise for city staff workers, two new staff positions - a police lieutenant and part-time building inspector, a stormwater needs assessment and new vehicles, banners and signs.

The second biggest bite from Suwanee's budget is its annual bond payment of $1.21 million on money borrowed to buy greenspace and build parks.

The Sims Lake Park project is scheduled as the next major initiative. Suwanee will spend $2.6 million in 2007-09 to ready the park for public use.

More than $14 million is set aside in the capital projects fund to pave streets, build a new City Hall, purchase land to expand the public works department facilities and improve the area around

Interstate 85.

Of the total $11.5 million budget, 13.8 percent will be spent on public safety, the largest expenditure after capital outlay.

"Suwanee is healthy and we can continue to meet our needs and implement new initiatives without a tax rate increase," said City Manager Hardin Watkins.