Adele Schirmer

Adele Schirmer, Social Circle's City Manager 

The Social Circle City Council adopted an $18.5 million operating budget Tuesday for fiscal year 2021-22, based on keeping the city’s current millage rate at 7.9.

Social Circle’s new fiscal year begins July 1.

The vote was 3-1, with Councilman Tyson Jackson opposed because of a planned hike in water rates.

Assessed property values in the city limits of Social Circle increased 5.83% on average this year, according to outgoing city manager Adele Schirmer. The 7.9 millage rate should provide $1.74 million from property taxes.

During the public hearing, Schirmer recommended increasing utility fees to enable the city to reinvest in its infrastructure.

The city manager said the average residential customer’s monthly water bill would increase 2.5% to $33.17 from $32.35. Sewer bills for the average customer would rise to $29.82 a month from $29.09.

Social Circle’s gas rates, which remain the lowest in the region, according to Schirmer, would increase by roughly 5%.

Rates for solid waste would rise by 3.5% she said. An average customer’s rates would increase from $15.99 a month to $16.55.

The city manager also suggested a 2.5% cost-of-living adjustment to maintain market competitiveness and retain employees. Schirmer recommended next year’s budget include merit increases of 2% for employees who meet or exceed expectations.

Council members also made a change to the proposed capitol improvement plan to include extending the Social Circle Parkway/Thurman Baccus Road water main at an estimated cost of $550,000.

The extension project was initially tabled until after council members could discuss personnel and real estate in an executive session.

Council members unanimously voted to proceed with the water main extension after reconvening into open session, according to unofficial draft minutes. Funding for the project will be determined at a later time, according to the draft minutes.

City officials proposed the water main extension project as a way to address the Church at Stanton Grove’s need for water service at its future church site.

The church bought property on Thurman Baccus Road for a new campus and sanctuary.

The church plans to build a 15,000-square-foot building that includes a 4,100-square-foot assembly space to hold 300 church members. The size of the assembly would require the church to install an indoor sprinkler system for fire safety, Schirmer said.

The outgoing city manager said the best route for extending water to the church would be from Social Circle Parkway at East Hightower Road, along the parkway to Thurman Baccus Road and then west along Thurman Baccus Road to the church site.

“This route would be 5,500 feet in length,” she said. “The master plan calls for an 8-inch water main and the city standards now require the material be ductile iron pipe.”

Schirmer told council that future businesses would benefit from the proposed water main extension along that route since the area supports industrial development. She added that the church membership is open to using natural gas at the new location, a city provided utility.

The 7.9-mill rate would mean a tax bill of $474 a year on a house worth $150,000 with a homestead exemption.

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