Fulton County Acting Chief Appraiser David Fitzgibbons told the city council at its April 3 meeting to expect an “8 to 10 percent total decrease.”
However, McDonough said new information puts the drop less than half that amount, allowing staff to beef up fiscal 2013 revenue from the $77 million previously expected to nearly $90 million.
“We received a preliminary digest a couple weeks ago,” he said. “The decrease showed a decrease not of 10 percent but only 3.4 percent.”
The windfall allows room in the budget for expenditures like $200,000 to reinforce a historic structure at Lost Corner Preserve, a 22-acre parcel the city bought in 2008 for a public park.
“I’m glad you could find that money,” said District 6 City Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny.
The city also can now extinguish its $2 million debt on fire-rescue vehicles, otherwise on the books until 2016.
“This is debt from when we started the fire department back in 2006,” McDonough said. “This will put us in a good position. I think that’s a very positive change.”
Changes in the budget include a 22 percent increase in the city clerk’s $148,000 budget to accommodate new agenda-producing software, while the $2.4 million general administration budget has a 21 percent decrease due to property and liability insurance costing $1 million less than fiscal 2012.
“Cumulatively through this department, we had a lot of savings,” Finance Director Karen Ellis said.
However, she cautioned against chipping away at a contingency cushion in the department’s budget.
“You don’t want to underbudget yourself too tightly because then you’re left with nothing if something comes up,” Ellis said.
McDonough said estimating cash flows can be more art than science.
“We give you our best estimate on what we think will keep us in the black,” he said.
The city has hit the $100 million mark in funded capital projects, McDonough said, with $12.5 million budgeted in fiscal 2013 for roadway and greenspace improvements.
“We need to accelerate getting some of them done,” Mayor Eva Galambos said.
The budget will have its first public hearing Tuesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall.