BRADENTON, Fla. - The Atlanta City Council adopted Mayor Kasim Reed's $1.9 billion budget for fiscal 2015, which is expected to bring the city to the bond market for the first time since 2009 with general obligation debt.
The city hopes to issue $250 million of GO bonds to begin funding more than $1 billion in pent-up infrastructure needs, if voters approve in a referendum in early 2015.
The council approved the $1.9 billion budget Monday. It is $13.5 million or 0.71% more than the current spending plan.
The general fund portion totals $567 million, and includes $142.7 million in reserves.
The budget goes into effect July 1.
"This budget continues the city of Atlanta's course of fiscal stability and responsibility," said Mayor Kasim Reed in a statement. "We have improved our financial strength, earned bond rating upgrades across all of the city's funds, built our cash reserves, and continue to deliver essential services.
"The public deserves the highest level of financial stewardship as we seek to tackle a major infrastructure backlog next year through a $250 million public bond offering," Reed added.
The mayor has spoken of financing infrastructure needs for several years as the city recovered from the recession. He announced final plans to move forward Jan. 6 during his second inauguration.
Reed also appointed a Commission on Waste & Efficiency to review city expenses and to recommend cuts and changes in operations to cover the anticipated $16 million to $20 million a year that will be needed for debt service.
The commission held several meetings in June to identify areas of city government where savings could be achieved, and is considering a phased-in approach to savings and other budget changes that will also provide annual funding for infrastructure expenses as well as operations and maintenance.
Some of the recommendations under consideration are selling city-owned land, reviewing tax policies, studying changes in fees and fines, and instituting performance-based budgeting.
Other areas include reviewing the number of take-home vehicles and replacing some with a vehicle allowance, recovering lost training funds from officers who leave for another police department in the state, and developing online services for residents to pay bills and access city records, among others.
The city had $222.5 million of outstanding GO bonds as of June 30, 2013.
The debt is rated Aa2 by Moody's Investors Service and A by Standard & Poor's. Both agencies changed the outlook on the city's credit to stable from negative in early 2012.
Raters also upgraded Atlanta's airport and sewer bonds in recent years.