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Mayor and Commission to hold public budget hearing, special called session tonight

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Residents can comment on the FY23 budget at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

There are three Taxpayers Bill of Rights Public Hearings for Clarke County residents – tonight’s at 6 p.m. is the second. During that hearing the Mayor and Commission will hear public comment on the fiscal year 2023 budget before their scheduled sessions at City Hall, with a final hearing scheduled for June 7. Commissioners are expected to adopt the finalized budget at that meeting in June.

The Mayor’s proposed $166 million budget was submitted to commissioners for review last month and will go into effect on July 1 of this year. As it stands, government workers could expect pay increases that vary across departments, and residents could see the property tax rate reduced slightly.

The budget process is underway as ACC property owners have received assessments that will determine how much their property tax bill will be this year. Some taxpayers have expressed outrage about the size of their tax bills, with increases driven in large part by skyrocketing property values in Athens-Clarke County.

One of the largest chunks of the overall budget – $1.4 million – is set aside for housing and development.

Some commissioners have expressed concerns of their own on the budget, especially regarding salary discrepancies among government workers. Librarians, for one, are currently not included in the $15 minimum wage received by other ACC employees because their salaries are controlled by the state.

Questions have also been raised regarding wage discrepancies between the Sheriff and Police department, rooted in different pay plans, according to Human Resources.

Commissioner-submitted questions and answers from department heads can be found on the budget homepage, at accgov.com/budget.

Following the public budget hearing, the Mayor and Commission will address the funding shortfall for the North Athens Downtown Redevelopment Project and subsequent solutions. That will finish before an agenda setting meeting, where commissioners will discuss items for the next voting session, including 2022 tax rates and a contract renewal for the Neighborhood Leaders program.