Officials have proposed a Fiscal Year 2013 general fund budget balanced at $19 million, a 6.2 percent increase over the current fiscal year’s $18 million budget. The current property tax rate of 8 mills remains unchanged after a Kennesaw City Council vote in July.
Officials are expected to discuss the budget and other issues with the public at a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at the Ben Robertson Community Center, 2753 Watts Drive in Kennesaw.
Unlike other cities in Cobb County, Kennesaw’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
City Manager Steve Kennedy said the increase in the proposed budget is the result of more revenue in the city’s coffers.
“We had some additional revenues that will be coming in for some of the developments that we have around town — development permit fees, impact fees — and we had some projections of revenue increases on a couple of our revenue line items,” he said.
The revenue increases come in spite of a decline in property taxes, which fund about 70 percent of the city’s budget. Kennedy reported a 3 percent decline in property taxes, which he said is an improvement over the 6 to 8.5 percent drop Kennesaw saw in prior years.
There are no employee furloughs or layoffs planned, and city workers will receive a 2 percent pay raise for the first time in four years, Kennedy said.
“We look at it every year, and some years up until now we just haven’t been able to work it into all of the numbers, and this year we were able to,” he said.
The city also plans to hire a full-time gardener at the Smith-Gilbert Gardens, a full-time maintenance worker and two new police officers. A hiring freeze had been placed on the two police department positions. According to the city, the department currently has 58 sworn officers and 61 authorized officer positions.
Kennesaw has a partially self-funded heath care plan for 210 participating employees. However, the city expects to pay more than $90,000 in health care costs in the next fiscal year.
“We get a broker to come in and help us identify what we might expect our claims to be, and then we fund accordingly,” Kennedy said. “In prior years, we have been in a position not to fund all of the suggested contributions.”
Overall, Kennedy said the preparation of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget came with fewer stresses than in previous years as a result of an improved planning process and growth in the local economy.
“It was a little less of a strain because we’ve had some of the development around town — student housing developments and a couple of other things that are coming in the upcoming year that we haven’t had in the past three years because of the economy,” he said.
There will be two public hearings on the proposed budget, set for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 4 and Sept. 17 at Kennesaw City Hall. Council members are scheduled to vote on a final budget on Sept. 17.