Woodstock's FY 2024 Budget

by Mayor Michael Caldwell

Among our City Council’s many important duties, the most critical is the passage of a fiscally responsible, balanced budget every year. On June 12th, our Council passed and I signed the budget ordinance. This action provides our government with its Fiscal Year 2024 Budget and its execution taking effect July 1, 2023 and ending June 30, 2024. I am very proud of our Council and staff for crafting a budget that accounts for a full millage rate rollback, meaning the city will lower its tax rate to ensure your property value increase over the past year won’t result in an increase in your city property taxes. We’re assessing some of the lowest tax rates in metro Atlanta here in our city while still delivering an exceptionally high quality of life and city service for our residents.

The most telling way to discover a person’s priorities is to take a look at their checkbook. This same principle applies to governments. This column will cover a high-level breakdown on Woodstock’s FY 2023 (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024) budget, and we’ll examine where our city focuses our attention. The total budget this fiscal year allocates $93,232,841 spread over five funds, with a total general fund expenditure coming in at $29,298,284 of that amount.

01 General Fund                                           31.4%             $29.29 million

02 Water-Sewer                                             15.3%             $14.31 million

03 Storm Water                                              1.7%               $1.54 million

04 SPLOST V                                                 24.7%             $22.99 million

05 Special/Int. Service                                   26.9%            $25.10 million

Most of these funds are dedicated toward specific purposes (ie. Water-Sewer is a separate fund intended to sustain our clean water and sewer treatment services). The General Fund comprises the large majority of our direct budget activity and serves as the best place to identify priorities. It divides as follows:

01 Police                                                        28.63%           $8.39 million

02 Fire                                                            20.10%           $5.89 million

The first two departments, our Police Department and Fire Departments, comprise together 50% of our city’s budget. Our city’s number one priority is public safety, and that is proven by the numbers. I also want to be sure to highlight that this represents a 15% increase in spending on public safety over last year’s fiscal year due to an historic 26% starting pay increase for our police officers. We’re investing in those who keep us safe here in Woodstock.

03 Public Works                                             8.65%             $2.53 million

04 Parks and Recreation                                6.67%             $1.95 million

05 Information Technology                             6.27%              $1.84 million

06 Municipal Court                                         4.57%             $1.11 million

07 All Remaining City Government                31.38%           $9.42 million

The next 26% of our budget is allocated across Public Works (infrastructure), Parks and Recreation, Information Technology, and our city’s judicial branch. These six departments together comprise roughly 75% of our total budget, leaving all remaining portions of our government spread across the final 25%.

Now you’ve seen the receipts. What can we see about our city’s priorities? First and foremost, we’re prioritizing a safe city. We’re doing so by investing historically in public safety compensation and attracting the best and brightest in the field to ensure our city maintains it’s impressively low crime rates and remains among the safest cities in the state of Georgia. We’re also making massive investments in our infrastructure. From roadways to water and sewer, we’re ensuring that the physical foundations our city is built upon are built to last and will operate effectively for our residents and visitors alike. We’re also investing in generational assets in the form of parks and greenspace, and we’ll be exploring ways with you that we can do even more on this front as the year progresses. The remainder of our budget is invested in critical priorities like economic development, community development, information technology and so much more.

We’re investing heavily in the areas that will build a sustainable, vibrant Woodstock for the next generation while maintaining some of the lowest tax rates in our region. Together, we have built an incredible city and community, and I am proud to report that you have a Council and staff who are intent on being good stewards with the resources you lend them to maintain that best-in-class sense of place and quality of life. We are hard at work to leave a city to our children that they will be proud to inherit, and we’re grateful for your trust.