Sandy Springs delays budget surplus allocations until January

The essential

The budget proposal mainly reinstated capital projects postponed at the start of the pandemic.
Council has postponed a public hearing and a vote on the use of funds.
A working session on Jan. 4 will “verify” the plan, with a board hearing and vote on Jan. 18.

Citing city residents’ confusion, the Sandy Springs City Council on Dec. 21 postponed its allocation of up to $67 million in budget surplus through January.

City Council member John Paulson moved to postpone the vote. He asked that it be added as a point of discussion at the council business meeting on January 4th. The public hearing and vote to allocate the funds will take place at its January 18 meeting.

Sandy Springs City Council member John Paulson.

“I think there’s some confusion about what we’re doing here,” Paulson said. “And I want to go back just a minute and talk about that. It’s part of a five-year capital plan that staff literally came up with in the spring of last year.

The council had put the capital plan on hold pending the outcome of the Transportation Sales Tax (TSPLOST) referendum vote.

“Because if it didn’t pass them, we had to move some of that money around,” Paulson said.

The TSPLOST was passed, which brought back the capital plan. The city also had a budget surplus that was just reconciled a few months ago, he said.

Mayor Rusty Paul said at the start of the pandemic, the city was in the middle of its fiscal year. The city restructured its budget by essentially stopping funding for capital projects because it didn’t know what impacts the pandemic would have on revenue.

“The impact of the pandemic hasn’t been as bad as we expected, thankfully. So that’s where the money is coming from,” he said.

Now the city has taxpayers’ money that needs to be spent on deferred capital projects, Paul said. The city can’t afford to go longer than an extra 30 days, he said, because departments, including police and fire departments, were expecting to buy the equipment they need.

James V. Hayes