Savannah City Council approves 2019 Service Program and Budget

2019 Budget: Fiscal cycle starts in January

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah has adopted a nearly $200-million spending plan. Council members voted in favor of the 2019 Service Program and Budget.

The vote happened with no public feedback at Thursday’s second public hearing.

​The city’s chief budget officer said she was a little shocked how at how measure went through after a year’s worth of preparation and engagement with the community.

​It’s been billed as a belt-tightening year, one reducing services like fire services, cutting about $650 thousand from their budget, but perhaps transparency and public engagement through first-time efforts like the city camp workshops led to the scarce public hearing turnouts.

“I can also chalk it up to us being able to communicate that message throughout the budget proposal as well and also answering those questions for the public that meant that they didn’t really need to come out," said Savannah’s Chief Budget Officer, Melissa Carter.

Carter acknowledged the budget is flexible over the course of next year, when the city starts the next fiscal cycle in January. The only discussion that did happen before the budget adoption was a question from Alderman Van Johnson, asking about the reduction in fire services.

In part of his response to the inquiry, City Manager Rob Hernandez said, “The reduction in FY19 is not to a primary response unit, so I do not believe that will impact the primary response time.”

Johnson followed up, “And the safety factor for firefighters will be maintained?”

“I believe so. I would not be recommending anything that would place either our employees or the public in jeopardy," Hernandez said.

​The chief budget officer said they’ll be looking for opportunities throughout the year as they conduct pay studies and continue to look at best practices to roll the millage rate back even more.

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