Albany City Commissioners reworking upcoming budget

City manager also talks sales tax revenue; incoming federal funding

Albany City Commissioners discuss 2021 budget

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The City Of Albany has announced its proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, at just over $290 million.

The city manager’s office brought the proposed budget to city commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting.

One of the biggest changes this year is the city can budget less money for the airport because of funding they're getting through the CARES Act.

But, typically one of the city’s biggest revenue sources, sales tax, has seen a decrease because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So now, the challenge is taking money away from other funds to make up for this loss of revenue.

“The sales tax on internet for local taxes, we should start to see that increase. And of course, with as much online purchasing that’s being done, the timing is perfect for us,” Subadan said.

Subadan said now the city will get money from internet sales tax.

This decision was passed during the past legislative session.

City commissioners said they still want to discuss some of these new allocations.

The proposed budget has to be turned in by June 30.

What about sales tax revenue?

Albany city budgets see downturns with lost sales tax

COVID-19 has changed the way we shop and with stores closed, we’re mainly shopping online. This also means sales tax revenue is down, and so Albany city leaders are having to rework the coming year’s budget.

Subadan said there’s been about a 15 percent decrease in sales tax revenue.

SPLOST and T-SPLOST projects are funded by sales tax. These are for projects like road repavements, railroad crossing improvements and sewer system repairs.

Subadan’s office suggests the city spends less money on certain projects to make up for this, like reducing money for alley pavements and sign and traffic signal upgrades.

“A reduction in R3M. You know, ‘repair, replace, remodel,’ is a fund we started five years ago in order to maintain our city facilities on an ongoing basis," Subadan said. "We had some projects last year that we’re not rebudgeting for this year and of course, we have anticipated reduction in our hotel/motel.”

With these reductions, the proposed SPLOST VII budget would be $19. 9 million and the new proposed T-SPLOST budget would be $13.9 million. Both for fiscal year 2021.

These changes would have to be approved by the city commissioners.

Federal funding on the way to Albany Transit and Airport.

Albany Transit and Airport to get millions in federal funding

Albany Transit and the Airport have both received letters of intent for funding, totaling more than $20 million through the CARES Act.

Specifically for COVID-19 impacts.

According to the letter, all transit and airport operational expenses from January 20 until the present will be reimbursable.

Albany Transit will be awarded $5 million and the airport will receive $15.9 million.

Subadan said this is extremely helpful for the city’s budget since they’ve seen that 15 percent decrease in sales tax revenue during the pandemic.

“The biggest impact for us is we won’t have to subsidize the operations of transit from the general fund. So that really is one of the best features of the CARES Act from a local government perspective,” Subadan said.

Subadan also mentioned new safety features the airport has put in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

She said they’ve ordered pexiglass separators to protect drivers and the people they’re driving at the airport.

They also make sure employees wear face coverings and visitors adhere to social distancing guidelines.

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