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Duluth City Council hears first budget proposal

DULUTH -- The Duluth City Council held a public hearing on the budget for the 2014 fiscal year during Monday's city council meeting.

The budget, presented by City Finance Manager Ken Sakmar highlighted various items of importance to the city.

In total, the city is expected to spend $75,136,532 through the general fund, capital projects, stormwater utility and other funds.

The operating budget calls for $20,082,179, which is a decrease from $21,076,815 a year ago.

While the budget did call for $3,813,990 to be used from the capital reserve fund, Sakmar said he didn't see that being needed at the current rate.

"We're currently hitting our marks," he said. "I don't forsee us having to use that."

Of that money, 40.9 percent will go to public safety, 12.9 percent to city clerk/business office, 8.9 percent to debt services, 8.3 percent to parks and recreation and 7.0 percent to public works, among others.

Capital improvement projects planned or currently underway are the hospital connector design and right of way, the Rogers Bridge Park playground, restroom and parking lot, the Bunten Road Park playground, parking lot and trail renovation, the Buford Highway median design and the Western Gwinnett Bikeway.

As far as what the city plans on for revenue, the finance committee projected 35.1 percent to come from general property taxes, 16.1 percent from fines and forfeitures, 14.1 percent from business taxes and 12.6 percent from franchise taxes. Other taxes collected include motor vehicle, excise, alcohol business, regulartory fees, intergovernmental, and cultural and recreational.

An ordinance adopting the budget will be presented on June 10 at the regular city council meeting, with another public hearing scheduled to take place.

Gateway Art Project Approved

The city council authorized the mayor to execute a contract with artist Michael Dillon on the roundabout art project. While a few more details are still being hammered out between the city's attorney and Dillon's attorney, the agreement is in place with the project expected to take approximately six to eight months to complete.

Alcohol Ordinance Amended

The city amended Section 3 of the Alcohol Ordinance to allow special event facilities to allow service of up to one meal per day for up to four days. The previous ordinance allowed up to three days with businesses having to apply for a restaurant license if it exceeded that. The new ordinance increases it by a day.

Upcoming Activities

The city will be hosting multiple activities in the next month. Flicks on the Bricks will be May 17 and will feature the movie "Brave," with preshow activities scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. The annual Memorial Day service will honor Vietnam veterans on May 25 at 6 p.m. Beerfest Duluth -- Brews and Tunes will be from 1 to 5 p.m. on June 1 and Duluth Idol will be on June 8.