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City of Woodstock’s FY2023 Budget Illuminates Priorities

 Each year, the most important duty of Woodstock's City Council is the adoption of a fiscally responsible, balanced budget, which was completed on June 13. I signed the ordinance to provide for our FY2023 Budget, and its execution took effect July 1, 2022, and will end June 30, 2023. I'm proud that Woodstock continues to assess some of the lowest municipal taxes in the metro Atlanta region while providing some of the highest quality services to residents and investing in critical public priorities.

To discover a person's priorities, just look at their bank statements. This same principle applies to governments.

Woodstock's total FY2023 Budget allocates $72,110,126, spread over five funds.

General Fund                 $24.8 million
Water-Sewer                  $13.7 million
Storm Water                  $1.5 million
SPLOST V                     $16.2 million
Special/Int. Service        $15.7 million

Most of these funds are allocated for specific purposes (e.g., water-sewer is a separate fund intended to sustain Woodstock's 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 divides as follows:

Police                                             $6.9 million
Fire                                                 $5.3 million
Public Works                                  $2.2 million
Parks and Recreation                     $1.5 million
Municipal Court                              $1.1 million
All Remaining City Government     $7.6 million

Police and fire comprise to make up 50% of Woodstock's general fund budget, which should let you know that our No. 1 priority is public safety. The next 20% of our general fund budget is allocated across public works (infrastructure), parks and recreation, and our city's judicial branch. These five departments make up roughly 70% of our total general fund budget, leaving 30% for all remaining portions of our government.

What do these numbers tell us about our city's priorities? Looking at Woodstock's five largest expenses, the three major themes are:

1. Woodstock spends 54% of its general fund on public safety and justice, totaling about $13.4 million. Our city is thriving, but only so long as it remains safe. Over the past decade, Woodstock's population grew by 50% and saw a 44% reduction in crime at the same time.
2. After public safety, Woodstock dedicates roughly 9% of its general fund to infrastructure maintenance and investment. When including other funds like SPLOST and water-sewer, tens of millions of dollars will be invested into Woodstock's transportation and support infrastructure over the next year.
3. Finally, another 6.35% will be invested into our award-winning Parks and Recreation Department to ensure our residents and visitors have a vibrant, best-in-class experience in Woodstock. The remainder of government, ranging across economic development, community development, administration, human resources, GIS, IT, and so much more is funded by the remaining 30% of our budget. All the while, Woodstock's debt balance is at its lowest in a decade, and 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've built an incredible place that people want to be, and by ensuring we use the resources that taxpayers have invested wisely, we'll build a city that our children are proud to inherit.
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