SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The City of Savannah released its 2024 proposed budget on Tuesday for a grand total of $560 million.
So, where is your money going?
Some of the largest increases in the budget will go to police and fire.
For police, there will be significantly more money allocated to training and recruitment — a trend through the past several years.
That’s amid what the mayor says is the city’s struggle with retention and attrition in the police department.
He tells us the way to combat that is to offer competitive wages.
“The top of our agenda this year is really investing in city employees. I think just because you want to work for city government does not mean you have to be working for poverty wages. It’s our goal to make sure our public safety is the best paid in the region as we continue to fight for talent,” Mayor Van Johnson said.
According to the budget, the police department will receive almost a $4 million increase from 2023 and fire will get close to $2 million more.
Johnson did clarify that the Savannah Police Department won’t hire just to fill ranks because he says that could lead to greater issues.
“We probably could be fully staffed now if we wanted to be. I don’t wanna hire just to hire. When you do like that, you have issues with people from other departments that have had issues of character, issues of training, and you end up with problems,” he said.
Johnson said that, although the city is making changes that will cost more money, taxes will not go up.
Instead, he says the growth Savannah is experiencing will help fund new expenses.
“Our city is growing. So, with increased growth, you have increased revenues,” Johnson said. “So, we’re able to use those funds to do some of the things that we wanted to do. That’s being able to take care of our employees, take care of our retirees, increase quality of life.”
Notably, in the proposed 2024 budget, Savannah receives $11 million more in property, sales and other taxes than projected for 2023.
That’s more than a 6% increase.
According to the mayor, you don’t have to worry about a tax increase this year, and the city won’t be drawing from its reserves either.
“We will have a balanced budget. Unlike in Washington, we have to have our books to balance,” he said.
The 2024 budget will be finalized by the end of the year.