Doraville has big plans for its 2015 budget.
Starting with promoting one of its part-time librarians to full-time, adding an part-time librarian and hiring five more police officers, the city is attempting to do it all while still lowering the millage rate.
Doraville’s budget was first read June 2, read a second time June 9 and is scheduled for its final read and approval June 16. The budget predicts a total general fund of $10,469,031.
“The budget looks really good this year,” said Shawn Gillen, Doraville’s city manager. “We are being very conservative in our revenue estimates because of the annexation.”
Doraville will gain an expanse of industrial land south of the current city limits effective Dec. 31.
“We have to do some expansion of public safety and public works to meet the needs of the annexation area,” Gillen said. “We are going to be adding five additional police officers over the next six to 10 months and doing some really aggressive capital improvements in that area. We believe we are able to do that and still lower the millage rate.”
An additional area of focus for the budget is the Doraville library. One issue is its lack of accessible bathrooms for handicapped patrons.
At the June 2 meeting, Councilwoman Pam Fleming said the city has a “tendency to neglect” the library.
“The library has 6,000 patrons they serve each month,” she said. “They are the largest service entity in our city, even above our courts and above the police department.”
Fleming recommended promoting the library’s part-time employee to full-time, adding an additional part-time employee, and renovating the bathrooms to make them accessible.
Gillen said the June 9 budget proposal includes these changes. At the June 2 meeting, he said bidding for library renovation would begin as soon as the budget and its amendments are passed. He told The Championthat the city plans to pay for the improvements and hiring by shifting money from other funds into the library budget.
“One of the issues we had was with the pay increases as well, so we lowered the cost of the pay increase,” he said. “There were some minor changes to some line items, but it wasn’t a lot of money to come up with. We are just rearranging the priority in the budget.”
The pay increase was a proposed three percent across the board pay increase for all city employees, who have not had a raise in several years. Gillen said the new proposal is for merit-based raises for employees, in order to shift some of that money elsewhere.
“We want to reward people; we don’t want people to think they’re not appreciated,” said Councilwoman Maria Alexander at the June 2 meeting. “We think that something can be compromised here, but I don’t think we can do three percent across the board.”
“If we tell people we are bringing something to the board, it is better than what we have now,” she said.
This article originally appeared in The Champion Newspaper.