Kingsland presents budget at 8 mills

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With slight growth in the tax digest, City of Kingsland staff presented a budget to council in late August that keeps the millage rate at 8 mills for the fiscal year 2021 budget. The first budget hearing will be Sept. 14. The digest is up 2.77% from new construction, which means the city will...

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With slight growth in the tax digest, City of Kingsland staff presented a budget to council in late August that keeps the millage rate at 8 mills for the fiscal year 2021 budget. The first budget hearing will be Sept. 14.

The digest is up 2.77% from new construction, which means the city will collect $104,944 more in property taxes at 8 mills than last year, finance director Filiz Morrow told council. The city’s fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

Sales tax has also been up in Camden County by 3.72% in the second quarter and 4.83% in July, despite dropping in the coastal region and state earlier this year.

“Even though these are good indicators, we need to keep a close watch on sales tax,” Morrow said. “With the last recession, back in ’07, ’08, we were at $1.8 million. This revenue actually decreased down to $1.4 million for the next few years. We didn’t get back to our pre-recession numbers until recently at $1.93 million. So I’m estimating this revenue to decline about 8% going into the budget year just to be conservative.”

Also based on the last recession, staff are predicting that other revenue streams will decrease after a spike in construction this past year, changes in the economy and the pandemic. The budget includes 10% less revenue from building permits, 35% from the bed tax paid by short-term rentals and 25% from Camden County Schools should school close. The city provides school resource officers and the school district reimburses the city for that cost.

General fund revenues are expected to be $10.3 million — down roughly $500,000 from the 2020 fiscal year — with expenditures at $10.1 million and $228,000 going to contingency.

Looking at the biggest departments, the police department is up $314,198 from last year for a total of $3.6 million. Changes include creating two new positions to form a two-person traffic enforcement team, increasing tuition reimbursement by $15,000, spending $31,000 more on training, $46,000 for new rifles and $405,544 for eight new patrol cars, a LiDAR unit, 23 portable radios and a new server. 

The fire department’s budget dropped to just under $1.8 million, down from the 2020 budget that included more than $600,000 to refurbish two fire trucks. This budget includes big purchases totaling about $1.1 million for equipment ($35,000), Station 4 remodel ($100,000) and a fire truck ($1 million). SPLOST funds will reimburse all but $35,085 of those expenses.

The water/sewer fund is budget at $8.7 million in revenue, $8.3 million in expenses and $368,667 to contingency. Tap and capital recovery fees are estimated to drop to $1.5 million, down from just under $2.5 million in 2020, because of the economy and a surge in growth over the last year, Morrow said. The city has also seen higher costs to cover credit card fees on utility payments to encourage people to pay online during the pandemic.

The budget hearing and all council meetings are being held online through Webex. For more information, visit www.kingslandgeorgia.com.