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Suwanee's proposed city budget features lower property taxes

Reader poll

How do you feel about Suwanee's proposed budget?

  • It looks great, no complaints. 14%
  • I wanted more SDS money used to improve roads. 29%
  • More money should go toward revitalizing Old Town. 14%
  • Less should be spent on events. 43%

7 total votes.

SUWANEE -- The service delivery settlement payments given to the City of Suwanee has allowed city officials to lower residents' property tax rates in the proposed 2013 budget.

The city's proposed budget is expected to increase 1.1 percent in the 2013 fiscal year, while the millage rate is set to decrease by .72 -- going from 5.65 to 4.93.

City Manager Marty Allen said in situations like the SDS settlement with Gwinnett County, the money could be used as another revenue source, so there's an opportunity to tax less. The city received $642,429 this year from the settlement.

"The city council believes it was appropriate to utilize these revenues to offset taxes elsewhere," Allen said.

City officials have discussed the budget during informal meetings the last month, and it's expected to be approved at the June 26 City Council meeting ahead of the start of the fiscal year on July 1. A 1.1 percent increase in the budget would put the total to $12,002,440. The proposed budget also includes a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise for employees and a reduction in employer retirement contributions from 11 percent to 9 percent.

At workshops during the last month, city council members were briefed on the budget. Two personnel additions are a new part-time administrative assistant position, and a promotion for a building inspector to building official.

One of the biggest challenges of the budget is dealing with the initial 33 percent increase in health insurance costs by provider Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Allen said. Allen said the figure changes everyday, but he was confident that the number will be close to the budgeted figure of a 10 percent increase.

Some options the city would look at to handle the spike is to negotiate and modify plans to more high deductible options or change providers.

By department, the allocation of money is largely the same as last year, with police remaining the one that receives the most money -- 36 percent expected this year, versus 35 percent last year. All other departments are within 1 percent of the 2012 allocation.

"It's primarily maintaining current service levels," Allen said.

Among the police additions are two vehicles and 16 laptop computers.

The city is also looking to replace its 10-year old computing software so it can better communicate with internal and external systems. The current system doesn't allow for bill payments, and doesn't interface with more sophisticated systems, Allen said.

The proposed new position would be a part-time administrative assistant who would work 60 percent in court, and 40 percent in administrative services.

The building official position has been vacant, and not imperative during the recent building downturn, but building inspector Susan Carpenter has performed the job, and would move into the official position. Allen said it's in the city's best interest to have the positioned filled, and that Carpenter, who has recently gained several certifications, has earned the promotion.

Comments

kevin 1 year, 11 months ago

I wonder why Gwinnett County can't do the same. What's up Ms. Nash and company? Why does Gwinnett have to spend every dime it collects?

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