The City of Savannah Mayor and Council adopted a $408 million overall budget on Thursday that makes significant investments in public safety, infrastructure, neighborhood revitalization, poverty reduction/economic development and leads to a more efficient government.
FY18 Adopted Total Budget: $408,035,141
FY18 Adopted General Fund Budget: $182,246,578
Mayor Eddie De- Loach said, “I was proud Council passed a balance budget that will move Savannah Forward. Council has made the tough choices today that included a mixture of cuts and enhancements which will lead to a better quality of life for our residents.”
The budget permanently addresses a structural imbalance that has existed for a number of years by creating a special enterprise fund that treats Savannah Fire Rescue as a separate, self-sustaining business unit. The budget ensures that all property owners who receive Savannah’s nationally recognized fire protection pay for that service, as they do for water, sewer and sanitation services. Currently no taxes are paid on more than 5,000 properties in Savannah, including government, educational, religious and other nonprofit entities.
Under the adopted fire services fee, each single family home, regardless of size, will pay $256 annually ($21 per month) for fire services, which could be reduced an anticipated 20 percent or more through a menu of risk-reduction discounts which are still under development. Council also allocated $400,000 to develop a fire services hardship fund to provide assistance for low-income property owners. The City will not begin collecting the fire fee until September 2018. Council on Thursday also reduced the City’s property tax rate by 8 percent, from 12.48 mills to 11.48 mills. Since 1997, City Council has reduced Savannah’s property tax rate by 34 percent.
Adoption of the fire fee frees up capacity in the City’s $182 million General Fund to make needed investments to grow and protect Savannah. The adopted budget: Creates 13 new police officer positions, and one police analyst position; Continues funding a Cold Case Investigative Unit; Saves 18 firefighter positions proposed for elimination; Allocates $7 million in General Fund dollars to the Capital Improvement Program to fund street, sidewalk, drainage and parks improvements. The fund had been severely underfunded in recent years due to budget constraints. Allocates $643,177 to nonprofit programs serving poor and elderly residents; Allocates $680,400 to cultural arts agencies; Allocates $319,080 to extend youth programming at community centers into the evening hours; Allocates $2.3 million for enhanced grass cutting, tree pruning and tree removal services across the city; Enhances drainage by funding a $500,000 modernization of the control system at the DeRenne Avenue Pump Station; Funds $410,000 in improvements at Joseph Tribble Park on Savannah’s southside; Contributes
$1.2 million for street, sidewalk, lighting and park improvements in the Edgemere/Sackville neighborhood as part of the Savannah Shines program. For more information on the 2018 budget visit: savannahga. gov/budget.
The 2018 Budget also aligns with the City’s Strategic Plan, “Savannah Forward”. The five “Savannah Forward” priorities are Public Safety, Neighborhood Revitalization, Infrastructure, Poverty Reduction/ Economic Development and Good Government. For more information on the strategic plan visit: savannahga. gov/savannahforward