Gainesville’s total city budget will increase by $9 million starting Oct. 1, with more money dedicated to improving city transportation, infrastructure and other initiatives.
Gainesville city commissioners voted Thursday to implement the new budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2023. Some major changes include increased funding to improve transit methods across the city and decreased funding for the city’s publicly owned utility branch, Gainesville Regional Utilities.
Mayor Lauren Poe said he hopes the budget will serve to improve Gainesville residents’ quality of life.
“This budget reflects months and months of work by the commission and our staff to present a budget that really meets the needs of our community,” Poe said.
The city allocated $200,000 for new sidewalks — though not immediately clear where they would be placed — as part of an effort to increase walkability across Gainesville. Bus riders will also benefit from budget changes, as the city will invest $100,000 in the creation of new bus stop shelters.
Additionally, the city will invest around $2.4 million in the creation of a cultural center and art park.
GRU’s city funding will also decline by $2 million as part of an annual decrease until 2027.
Electric and wastewater utility rates are expected to rise over the next year, according to a GRU press release. On the other hand, natural gas and water rates will see no increase. These changes come despite continued resident concerns of bill increases.
A large portion of Gainesville’s new revenue comes from a $4.5 million rise in the city’s property values. Gainesville is also maintaining its millage rate, or the city’s property tax, making it the third lowest in Alachua County.
If Alachua County’s one cent surtax passes, Gainesville may receive annual increased revenue of $17.4 million for infrastructure improvement across the city. A referendum for the tax will be held in November.
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Aidan Bush is a second-year journalism major and the city and county commission reporter for the Alligator. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Citrus County Chronicle. When not writing, he enjoys creating videos, water activities and spending time with his friends.