Among our City Council’s many important duties, the most critical is the passage of a fiscally responsible, balanced budget every year. On June 12, council passed — and I signed — the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Budget ordinance. Its execution takes effect July 1 and will end June 30, 2024.
I am very proud of our council and staff for crafting a budget that accounts for a full millage rate rollback, meaning the city will lower its tax rate to ensure that property value increases over the past year won’t result in an increase in your city property taxes. We’re assessing some of the lowest tax rates in metro Atlanta in Woodstock, while still delivering an exceptionally high quality of life and city services for our residents.
The most telling way to discover a person’s priorities is to take a look at their checkbook. The same principle applies to governments. This column will cover a high-level breakdown of Woodstock’s FY 2024 budget, and we’ll examine where our city focuses its attention. The total budget this year allocates $93,232,841 spread over five funds, with a total general fund expenditure of $29,298,284.
Here’s how the total budget breaks down:
General Fund – 31.4% – $29.29 million
Water-Sewer – 15.3% – $14.31 million
Storm Water – 1.7% – $1.54 million
SPLOST V – 24.7% – $22.99 million
Special/Internal Service – 26.9% – $25.10 million
Most of these funds are dedicated toward specific purposes, ie., Water-Sewer is a separate fund intended to sustain our clean water and sewer treatment services. The General Fund comprises the majority of our direct budget activity and serves as the best place to identify priorities. It divides as follows:
Police – 28.63% – $8.39 million
Fire – 20.10% – $5.89 million
Public Works – 8.65% – $2.53 million
Parks and Recreation – 6.67% – $1.95 million
Information Technology – 6.27% – $1.84 million
Municipal Court – 4.57% – $1.11 million
All Remaining City Government – 31.38% – $9.42 million
The first two departments, police and fire, comprise 50% of our city’s budget. Our city’s No. 1 priority is public safety, and the numbers prove that. I also want to highlight that this represents a 15% increase in spending on public safety over last year’s fiscal year, due to a historic 26% starting pay increase for our police officers. We’re investing in those who keep us safe in Woodstock.
The next 26% of our budget is allocated across Public Works (infrastructure), Parks and Recreation, Information Technology and our city’s judicial branch.
These six departments together comprise roughly 75% of our total budget, leaving all remaining portions of our government spread across the final 25%.
Now, you’ve seen the receipts. What do these figures tell us about our city’s priorities? First and foremost, we’re prioritizing a safe city. We’re doing so by investing historically in public safety compensation and attracting the best and brightest in the field to ensure our city maintains its impressively low crime rates and remains among the safest cities in Georgia.
We’re also making massive investments in our infrastructure. From roadways to water and sewer, we’re ensuring our city’s physical foundations are built to last and will operate effectively for residents and visitors. We’re investing in generational assets in the form of parks and green space, and we’ll be exploring ways that we can do even more on this front as the year progresses. The remainder of our budget is invested in critical priorities, like economic development, community development, information technology and more.
We’re investing heavily in the areas that will build a sustainable, vibrant Woodstock for the next generation while maintaining some of the lowest tax rates in our region. Together, we have built an incredible city and community, and I am proud to report that you have a council and staff who are intent on being good stewards with the resources you lend them to maintain that best-in-class sense of place and quality of life. We are hard at work to leave a city to our children that they will be proud to inherit, and we’re grateful for your trust.
— Mayor Michael Caldwell
– Michael Caldwell is the 31st mayor of Woodstock, a retired state legislator, member of the Georgia Technology Authority, partner at Black Airplane, husband to Katie, and father to Oliver, Elizabeth and Charlotte.