Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin deflected credit or congratulations on getting both a 3 mills property tax increase and the 2010 fiscal year budget passed by the Atlanta City Council today.
“It’s good for the city,” said Franklin in a wide-ranging phone interview this afternoon. “It’s our job to do what’s best for the city longterm.”
Had the budget and property tax increase not passed, the mayor said the city would have had to continue furloughs of employees, and it would have had to drastically reduce funding for parks and public works.
Because the city has already cut $125 million out of its budget, Franklin said the city has been operating in a skeletal form.
The city still faces other major budget issues, such as fulfilling its pension obligations to retired employees. the mayor and council are seeking outside expertise to understand the city’s option when it comes to the pensions for new employees.
The passing of the budget and the property tax increase will give the mayor a bit of breather for her last seven months in office.
But Franklin said that was not the way she looked at it.
“This was a tough year for the city, and we will end this fiscal year in the black,” she said. “It’s been the hardest year with the financial crisis.”
Most of the city’s financial issues (but she quickly added that not all) are a result of external factors — the economy with a drop in sales taxes and property values. Not only will the fiscal year that ends tomorrow be in the black, but the new budget for 2010 also is projected to at least break even.
“There are predictions that we will be out of a recession in 2010 and that governments will see a turnaround in revenue in 2011,” Franklin said.
Either way, a new mayor will be in office.
As one observer, who prefers to not be quoted publicly, said: “The next mayor should thank Shirley Franklin for what happened today.”