At a meeting of the Dawsonville City Council on Monday, May 18, city officials announced that major budget cuts are expected for the upcoming year, as the city recovers from revenues lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a preliminary budget presentation by Dawsonville Finance Administrator Hayden Wiggins, the city’s 2020-21 budget is expected to decrease $1,023,612 from what was budgeted for the 2019-20 financial year.
“Last year we were right at $7 million, this year the budget has been cut considerably down to $5.9 million,” Wiggins said.
Cuts include $204,066 from the city’s general fund and $748,162 from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The city’s Enterprise Fund, which comes from city utilities, increased by $10,316.
“Basically all of our general fund revenues would go up year after year, but due to the pandemic, I’m taking a very conservative approach,” Wiggins said. “As you can see, I’m projecting LOST to be down 25% for the next fiscal year, I hope that’s not the case, and it’s only 10 or less, but I just think it’s better to be on the conservative side of it.”
Unlike the previous year when dozens of large projects were completed by the city, including the second phase of the Main Street Park project, the Dawsonville Farmers Market, and multiple utility and transportation projects, Wiggins said that in the upcoming year only a handful of projects will be budgeted for.
“Like I said, due to COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve taken a very conservative approach to this, so it’s not a whole lot,” Wiggins said.
Projects they do intend to plan for in the budget for 2020 are what Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason called “serious needs” and include upgrades to the Shoal Creek Lift Station, sewage pond dredging, debt repayments for city hall, renovations to city hall’s second-floor restrooms, refurbishment of the water tower at Burt’s Crossing, and paving projects on Main Street, Memory Lane and Jack Heard Road.
“We’re trying to be as frugal with the money as we can be, regardless of COVID-19,” Eason said after the meeting. “We’re trying to do things that will help the community.”
With the current budget the city will not be offering a cost of living adjustment or competitive pay increase to city employees, Wiggins said.
See the complete proposed 2020-21 budget here.
A public input session on the budget will be held at the board’s next meeting on June 1, Eason said, and the budget will be adopted on Monday, June 15, 2020.
Local residents are encouraged to come and share their thoughts on the budget at the June 1st meeting, which will be held in person at city hall with social distancing requirements and increased safety protocols.