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Empty malls, arenas and hotels to cost Atlanta budget at least $35 million

Atlanta City Hall. Credit: Kelly Jordan

Atlanta City Hall. Credit: Kelly Jordan

Atlanta City Hall. Credit: Kelly Jordan

By Maggie Lee

Atlanta City Hall is trying to figure out how to make up for tens of millions of dollars that won’t come into the city budget as COVID-19 keeps visitors at home.

Sales taxes and all those hotel room taxes are part of what pays Atlanta cops and paves city roads.

“We are anticipating a reduction in revenues of around $35 million to $40 million between mid-March and the end of the fiscal year” on June 30, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told Atlanta City Council Tuesday.

This year’s budget is about $668 million. (That doesn’t include big items run out of their own, separate funds like the airport and waterworks.)

The city is looking at reductions in costs as well as how to maximize federal money.

Buckhead District 7 City Councilman Howard Shook said that given what is already known, the city is going to need a cushion “from a body blow we’re clearly going to receive.”

Bottoms said details of her budget proposal and concrete steps aren’t ready yet and she didn’t want to make piecemeal recommendations.

“We’re dealing with this in real time so we are looking at all of our expenditure and looking for ways to stop the bleed,” she said.

COVID-19 ended the NCAA college basketball season a few before Final Four fans would have arrived in Atlanta. The loss of that event alone kept something like 100,000 people away from the city’s hotels, stores and restaurants. So that tax that would have been collected on all that commerce didn’t come in either.

Maggie Lee

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.


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