Funds from American Rescue Plan to help Atlanta balance budget, mayor says

Atlanta City Hall. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

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Atlanta City Hall. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Funding from the American Rescue Plan relief package will help the city of Atlanta balance its budget for the next year, under a proposal presented Thursday.

The city is set to receive about $178 million in federal funds from the latest package, which was approved by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in March. Atlanta hopes to use $62 million of that to supplement its general fund revenue for the fiscal year 2022 budget, which runs from July 2021 to June 2022, according to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ office. Local governments are allowed to use American Rescue Plan funds to replace lost revenue from the pandemic.

The city’s top financial officials presented the proposed budget to members of the City Council on Thursday. The Council is set to hold multiple budget hearings over the next several weeks before taking a vote this summer.

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Increases in Bottoms’ proposed $2.04 billion budget include funding for 250 new police officers, resources for the city’s pre-arrest diversion program and additional funding for the city solicitor’s office to tackle nuisance properties. Bottoms announced the plan to hire 250 more officers during her State of the City address. The Atlanta Police Department has an authorized capacity of up to 2,046 officers, but is about 400 short of that number.

The budget proposes a 7% increase in police funding, from $215 million to $230 million.

The departments set to receive the most funding under the proposed general fund budget are police, fire and transportation.

The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will still be felt over the next fiscal year. Sales taxes, licenses and permits revenue, alcohol taxes and hotel/motel taxes are expected to dip by $4.4 million. Property taxes, which make up over a third of the general fund and are the largest source of revenue for the city, are projected to decrease by 1.8%, or $4.2 million. The city has not proposed a property tax rate increase.

The full, 623-page proposed budget can be read on the city’s website.