The most important duty of our City Council is the adoption of a fiscally responsible, balanced budget each year. On June 13, council passed, and I was proud to sign, the ordinance to provide for our Fiscal Year 2023 Budget — its execution took effect July 1 and will end June 30, 2023. I am very proud to report that our city continues to assess some of the lowest municipal taxes in the metro Atlanta region, all while providing some of the highest quality services to our residents and investing in critical public priorities.
If you ever want to discover a person’s priorities, you only need to take a look at their checkbook. This same principle applies to governments. This column will cover a high-level breakdown of Woodstock’s FY 2023 (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023) budget, and we’ll examine where our city focuses its attention. The total budget this year allocates $72,110,126 spread over five funds, with a total general fund expenditure coming in at $24,879,561 of that amount.
01 General Fund 38.5% $24.8 million
02 Water-Sewer 13.1% $13.7 million
03 Storm Water 9.5% $1.5 million
04 SPLOST V 7% $16.2 million
05 Special Revenue/Internal Service 4.5% $15.7 million
Most of these funds are dedicated toward specific purposes, i.e., Water-Sewer as a separate fund intended to sustain our clean water and sewer treatment services. The General Fund comprises the lion’s share of our budgeting and serves as the best place to identify priorities. It is divided as follows:
01 Police 27.81% $6.9 million
02 Fire 21.60% $5.3 million
03 Public Works 8.99% $2.2 million
04 Parks and Recreation 6.35% $1.5 million
05 Municipal Court 4.57% $1.1 million
06 All Remaining City Government 30.68% $7.6 million
The first two departments, our police and fire departments, comprise nearly 50% of our city’s budget. If you were to determine our city’s No. 1 priority based on budget allocation, there is no contest. We put public safety first.
The next 20% of our budget is allocated across Public Works (infrastructure), Parks and Recreation, and our city’s judicial branch. These five departments together comprise roughly 70% of our total budget, leaving all remaining portions of our government spread across the final 30%.
Now, we’ve seen the check stubs. What do they tell us about our city’s priorities? As I look over Woodstock’s five largest expenses, I see three major themes.
- We spend 54% of our general fund on public safety and justice, coming in at about $13.4 million. Our city is a thriving city, but only so long as it remains a safe city. Over the past decade, we grew by 50% in population and saw a 44% reduction in crime at the same time. We take public safety seriously here, and our checkbook shows it.
- After public safety, our city will dedicate roughly 9% of our general fund to infrastructure maintenance and investment. When including other funds, like our SPLOST V and Water-Sewer funds, we’ll be investing tens of millions of dollars into Woodstock’s transportation and support infrastructure over the next year.
- Finally, we’ll be investing another 6.35% into our Parks and Recreation Department, to ensure our residents and visitors have a vibrant, best-in-class experience in our city.
The remainder of the government, ranging across economic development, community development, administration, human resources, geographic information systems, information technology and more, is funded by the remaining 30% of our budget. All the while, our city’s debt balance is at its lowest in a decade and our tax rates remain intentionally low.
We are prioritizing a fiscally conservative approach to our city’s budget, while also ensuring we invest in the people and systems that make Woodstock one of the best places to live in America. We have built an incredible place that people want to be, and by ensuring we use the resources each of us as taxpayers have invested wisely, we’ll build a city that our children are proud to inherit.
— Mayor Michael Caldwell
– Michael Caldwell is the 31st mayor of Woodstock, a retired state legislator, member of the Georgia Technology Authority, partner at Black Airplane, husband to Katie, and father to Oliver, Elizabeth and Charlotte.