Amidst a torrent of recent controversy regarding MARTA’s financial shortcomings and bloodshed near a proposed police and fire training complex, City of Atlanta leaders called attention Wednesday to positive news: a record-high amount of cash in the city’s general fund coffer, as officials describe it.
According to the now-public Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report, a summary of the period ending in June, the city notched a positive fund balance of $240 million—good for the highest mark in Atlanta’s 170-year history.
City leaders say the report points to a combination of “smart fiscal management,” a strong revenue bounce-back after the COVID-19 pandemic’s worst days, a growing economic base, and “consistent maintenance of reserves over the past decade.”
The city’s general fund swelled in fiscal year 2022 by more than 28 percent—or $53 million—to reach the $240.2 million number.
Primarily fueling the increase was growth in post-pandemic revenue from general business licenses. Other financial bright spots included revenue from property taxes, other licenses and permits, local option sales taxes (or LOST), and hotel/motel taxes, according to the report.
Wednesday’s announcement included a reminder that two leading credit rating agencies, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings, affirmed Atlanta’s Aa1 and AA+ ratings on the city’s general obligation bonds in October.
The city’s financial standing has created a trickle-down effect, to a degree: Dickens' office approved $9.5 million for employees—including pay increases for first-responders—that saw a cost-of-living paycheck adjustment for all city workers, beginning in January.
“By comparing our current state to where we were a decade ago, it’s evident how much progress we’ve made and how well-prepared and positioned we are to tackle future challenges,” Mohamed Balla, Atlanta's chief financial officer, said in a prepared statement.
Let’s hope those challenges include dangerous sticks and stones in bike lanes and the current pothole onslaught brought by a rainy winter.
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