SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - In almost two weeks, the city of Savannah will vote whether to adopt their 2020 budget of $425 million.
Just like every year, there are a few changes from prior years budgets. The city said paying their employees competitively and fairly was a top priority for this budget and it shows. When more dollars go out, the budget officers must decide where to trim.
The lowest paid City of Savannah employee making around $11 an hour will make $13.17 an hour if this budget is adopted. It’s all a part of the city’s plan to raise wages for their staff. They are offsetting those costs with a few fee adoptions and increases. Next year, the City will try to increase street sweeper tickets by $5.
“As our expenses increase, we had to identify revenues that were also going to cover those differences," said Chief Budget Officer Melissa Carter. "Because by law, we just want to make sure that we are presenting a balanced budget to our community as well and also to our council to adopt.”
The City says those hardest to retain and recruit will see some of the highest increases. Along with IT and engineering staff members, police officers and firemen could see the most extra money on their checks next year.
“Our public safety staff personnel, I would say, by far are receiving the largest or most significant increase. That’s been something that’s been a challenge throughout the state and throughout the country,” said Carter.
But some fee increases have nothing to do with the city paying their employees more.
Next year, your trash fee could go up a dollar a month per month, about $12 for the year.
But the city says this utility increase will continue to increase about the same amount over the next five years based on need and maintenance.
Just like last year, the City of Savannah will surprisingly put around $1.5 million into community partnerships and non-profits like Step Up Savannah, Senior Citizens Inc and America’s Second Harvest. The City of Savannah says other cities and municipalities aren’t donating into programs like this.
“Based on those that I have reviewed, we are out of the norm. We are making a sizable investment in non-profit agencies,” said Carter.
According to the 2020 budget, fewer agencies applied for funding compared to last year. But some non-profits weren’t granted as much money as they were last year. One notable new name to the list, CrimeStoppers. Their agency is projected to receive $30,000.
“We can fund not only the core municipal services such as street maintenance, road maintenance, police services, fire protection services. In addition to that, we want to support our community and neighborhoods outside of the regular services we provide,” said Carter.
Dec. 5, council will vote to adopt the budget after they hear from residents at the second public hearing.