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City budget to add $20 million for projects

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The city’s proposed fiscal year 2022 budget will get its first public review Thursday when the Roswell City Council’s Finance Committee meets. The budget intends to streamline city operations while increasing funds for city projects by about $20 million, the city manager said.

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Roswell Convention Center, 912 N. Main St.

Due to state health orders, the public is encouraged to attend electronically. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel. Those wanting to participate can do so through GoToMeeting virtual meeting software.

By computer, tablet or smartphone, the meeting can be joined at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/822397005. To join by phone, call 669-224-3412 and use access code 822-397-005.

Thursday’s budget presentation will give a broad overview, City Manager Joe Neeb said. The details of the budget will be presented in a special meeting of the City Council on May 28.

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One thing the 2022 budget will not do is return the city to its pre-pandemic levels of funding. Neeb and Mayor Dennis Kintigh said through the last year, the city has learned to streamline its operations.

Last year as the pandemic brought closures and changes to how the city operated, staff revised the then-proposed budget to cut $131 million in expenses. Just over 100 jobs were cut from the city workforce through removing open listings, offering voluntary buy-outs and laying off seasonal workers.

“We’re raising the budget from $101 million, approximately, to $126, $127 million, and that’s actually still less than what we were in 2019,” Neeb said. About $20 million of that increase will go toward city projects, he said.

Kintigh said the city’s senior staff deserved much credit in creating a streamlined budget while identifying areas that needed more funding.

“This is not going to be the same structure that it was a year ago,” the mayor said of the city’s operations. “The senior staff has used this opportunity to restructure the services and being able to identify those areas that needed some beefing up. It’s radically different in so many ways,” he said.

“This will sound trite, but the most important thing about this city is the team that provides services, and Joe Neeb building that team in a more efficient, effective way is critical,” Kintigh said.

In addition to the budget, the Finance Committee will hear presentations on the fiscal year 2020 audit and the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Among the provisions in the act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in March, is $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and tribal governments.

Reports on the city’s collections for gross receipts taxes, lodgers’ tax and convention center fees will also be presented.

The Finance Committee will consider its recommendations for two resolutions, one containing budget adjustments of $13.8 million in revenues and $2.9 million in expenses, and another authorizing the sale of surplus property.

Committee members will also consider a recommendation for a fire hydrant meter policy.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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