Sugar Hill OKs $28M budget

SUGAR HILL -- The Sugar Hill City Council Monday night approved its 2012 budget of about $28 million, which includes a roughly 10 percent increase to the price tag of its downtown City Hall, now expected to cost nearly $11 million.

As Van Winkle Construction this week pours walls of the 30,000-square-foot hall at West Broad Street and Temple Drive, its scope has broadened, and so has its price tag. An apse enlarging the hall's second-floor council chambers and including basement bathrooms, above and below a first-floor portico, was the chief reason for the increase. Also heightening the price was the decision to build the upper level of the hall's adjoining two-story parking deck now, instead of later.

"We can financially do that without stressing ourselves, and not having it look like it's partly done," City Manager Bob Hail said of building the street-level half of the deck now, instead of in a latter phase. "The difference in price was something we thought we could afford and not have it look unfinished."

Moreover, Hail boasted that the city's $15 million street scape of West Broad from Peachtree Industrial Boulevard to Ga. Highway 20 is flourishing amid a trying economy, and more importantly, without the city incurring debt. Sugar Hill's capital improvements are funded from savings, despite reduced property tax revenue.

"We're not taking out any loans, not issuing any bonds," Hail said at the council's monthly meeting Monday. "The projects we have are significant in the growth of our city. These things are the final cog in that wheel of creating a community."

Other highlights of the budget include roughly $450,000 in road improvements, $170,000 for storm water management enhancement and $400,000 for recreation upgrades, including expanded parking at Gary Pirkle Park.

"In a time where other cities have struggled, we've been able to grow and put forth several projects," Councilman Mike Sullivan said. "We're definitely looking forward to the day (downtown is) done and complete and ... gets this area ready for growth."

Also at Monday's meeting, the council granted Global Sport United a six-month extension in its land lease agreement to begin development of a sports and retail center on 90 acres off of Ga. Highway 20 adjacent to Sugar Hill Golf Course and bordering the Chattahoochee River. Global was given that additional time to find financing for the project and begin site development.