Savannah mayor speaks on cuts in 2017 Budget Proposal

Savannah mayor speaks on cuts in 2017 budget proposal.

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We're taking a deeper look into the City of Savannah's budget proposal for next year, and more specifically, we're looking at why the city manager says it's imbalanced.

There are several factors that lead to the budget issues in the city, including lack of revenue coming from taxes, past inconsistencies, as well as the loss of funds when merging with the county for the police department.

"It was balanced based on vacancies not based on true budget," said Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach.

The city manager's proposed budget is a bridge to get to the next year with major cuts and borrowing of money from the reserve fund.

"Again, that's in response to the fiscal reality that we're facing," said Mayor DeLoach.

So how did we get here in the first place? Let's start with the lack of revenue coming from property taxes, the single most significant source of revenue.

"Whenever the folks who made the budget this past year, they were anticipating a lot more money coming in the property tax area in which did not come in," said Mayor DeLoach.

They were expecting a 4 percent increase in property tax but it came in with a .5 increase.

"The reduction in revenues that the county is paying as far as the police merger is concerned that was a decision that was made by the city of Savannah, the mayor and councilman," said Chatham County Commission Chairman Al Scott.

This is another reason they're having to adjust. Last year they negotiated a $3.5 million reduction in reimbursement from the county to keep the public safety partnership with Savannah-Chatham Metro Police intact.

They said they may have to look at this agreement again.

"There is a decrease in revenue coming from the recorders court. I don't know the exact number but I've been told there's a revenue shortfall. There's almost $2 million. I know that's an issue not just for the city of Savannah but for the county as well," said Scott.

Total revenue in the general fund budget is expected to go down in 2017 but rise again later. You can let your voice be heard about the budget during the public hearings that will start on December 8.

The council is expected to vote and adopt the budget before the end of the year. If you want to take a look at the complete proposed budget yourself, please click here.

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