The city of Atlanta’s fiscal 2021 budget will not include an increase in the millage rate despite the decrease in tax revenue the city will receive due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a testament to the council and our staff that once again our millage rate is staying steady in the budget,” Post 1 at-large Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond said in a statement. “This year was a very different process, but there’s a clear recognition that we should not have an increase. Each year for the past decade, we haven’t raised the tax rate. That’s different than our counterparts on the (Atlanta Board of Education) and Fulton County (Board of Commissioners).
“We’re always looking at ways that we can do things better and maintain our financial strength without having to go up on our millage rate. I applaud our decision to keep it steady. This budget continues our investments in the community and moves us forward.”
At its meeting June 20, the council voted 12-2 to approve its fiscal 2021 general fund budget of $673 million (Legislative Reference No. 20-O-1260), $4 million less than the fiscal 2020 one. Council members Jennifer Ide (District 6) and Antonio Brown (District 3) dissented, and District 4 Councilwoman Cleta Winslow was absent.
The budget had to be approved by July 1, when the new fiscal year begins. The meeting, which started June 19, took two days because the council received 1,073 public comments totaling 16 hours and 56 minutes.
In addition to having no increase in the millage rate (7.85 mills), the budget includes:
♦ Adding $427,000 for the Atlanta Citizen Review Board to increase funding for outreach and communications, additional positions and renovation and relocation efforts.
♦ $1.6 million to launch an Equitable Growth Grant program focused on the creation and attraction of high-quality, middle-wage jobs.
♦ $1.5 million for the expansion of the Atlanta/Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative to support the hiring of additional staff, other costs to cover direct participant expenses, the purchase of vehicles and additional office space.
♦ $500,000 in funding to the city’s department of transportation to install speed humps.
Of the Equitable Growth Grant program’s approval, Post 2 at-large Councilman Matt Westmoreland said in a statement, “Atlanta has the widest income inequality gap and lowest social mobility rate in the country. Every resident deserves the opportunity for a job that pays a living wage. Our focus on creating and attracting high-quality, middle-wage jobs is critical to the social and economic health of our city.”
The council also passed legislation to create a Public Safety and Community Support Restricted Fund and authorize the chief operating officer to produce a report of recommendations to enhance the city’s approach to public safety (Legislative Reference No. 20-R-4068).