Bottoms praised the council after their unanimous vote for the budget. It will be her last time working with the council on the budget since she announced last month that she’s not seeking reelection.
“Today, we move forward with a balanced budget … all while maintaining the strong financial position that enabled us to weather the past year with no layoffs, furloughs or cuts in essential services,” Bottoms said.
The mayor proposed a $707 million general fund budget, and the council voted to include an additional $1.5 million in licensing fees from short term rentals and $500,000 in federal subsidies.
Police funding represents nearly 33% of the budget at $230 million, meaning the police will receive more dollars than any other department in the city. The mayor plans to use some of those funds to hire 250 more officers. The department is 400 officers short of its capacity for up to 2,046 officers.
However, several residents submitted public comments urging the city to divest funds from the city’s police and incarceration departments. The police budget is up 7.1% from last year, and many of the residents who called in said those funds should go into other community services.
City Councilman J.P. Matzigkeit told police chief Rodney Bryant that the new budget has enough funding to hire as many as 500 more officers. Matzigkeit urged the administration to develop a plan to hire that many officers, and he urged Bryant to publish a plan for addressing crime.
Following the police in most funding is Atlanta’s fire department, which will receive more than $104 million. Nearly $92 million will go into “non-departmental” matters, such as payments to debt service, workers’ compensation, insurance, unemployment compensation and reserves.
Atlanta’s budget hearing process lasted for nearly a month after it began May 6. The council’s vote will empower the mayor to approve the final version of the budget. Atlanta’s chief financial officer will have to publish a copy of the final budget in June.
City Council Finance and Executive Committee Chair Jennifer Ide said in a released statement that the budget includes needed investments for the community. Those investments include funds to maintain and purchase public safety cameras and license plate readers, more funding for the Inspector General, and a larger budget for the transportation department to install speed humps.
Atlanta’s total operating budget is approximately $2.04 billion.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter J.D. Capelouto contributed to this article.