Reed: ATL's budget appears to be in black

Reed announced the savings Tuesday morning at a meeting with the Atlanta Committee for Progress, an advisory cabinet of major Atlanta business leaders.

“This was an important benchmark,” Reed said. “This shows the controls that we have put in place to make sure that we continue to reform fiscal affairs in the city.”

Reed and the city’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Aman said the money would be returned to the general fund.

Throughout the FY10 fiscal year, Reed and his predecessor Shirley Franklin – during her monthly budget updates -- hinted that the budget might go black.

“A lot of it has been in personnel,” said Aman, adding that the city has slowed hiring considerably, which accounts for some of the savings.

Councilman C.T. Martin said the savings have been an accumulation of different things.

“We are picking up funds from different departments,” Martin said. “We over-allocated in a few areas, so we are saving a little here, a little there.”

The city also has $27 million in reserves.

“We will put money back on the balance sheet, despite the fact that we are in the deepest recession in years,” Aman said.

For the 2011 fiscal year, Reed has proposed a $558 million budget that includes hiring 100 police officers, about 50 additional workers in the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department and spending more than $3 million to reopen and help operate its recreation centers, which the mayor now calls the "Centers of Hope."

But Reed is also proposing several fee increases to address budget shortfalls.

Aman said the city may use “$4-$5 million,” to close the budget gap.

“It is going to the general fund and we need every penny of it not to lay people off,” said Martin, adding that while he is happy for the savings, the city is not out of the woods.

“There are so many unanswered questions. We still have a problem with the pension. We still don’t have a tax digest,” Martin said. “This is not $10 million in cash. It is a figure on a piece of paper. We still have deficits coming out of the ying yang.”

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