City delays funding pitch for Alpha Loop

Alpharetta Council votes to raise issue in 2018 budget



ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Plans to develop two looping paths around Alpharetta’s central commercial district will have to wait until later this year when the city adopts a new budget for the 2018 Fiscal Year.

City leaders voted 7-0, agreeing that a request to amend the current budget to allocate $1.5 million for the loop project was premature.

The request was part of Mayor David Belle Isle’s recommended mid-year budget adjustments, a routine part of the city’s budget cycle.

The mayor has been a strong advocate for the project since it was first unveiled in November. The plan calls for a walking beltline connecting downtown, Avalon and the MetLife/Northwinds area.

It envisions an inner 2-mile loop and an outer, 5-mile loop that would connect at its northern point to the Big Creek Greenway.

Both loops would include paths of varying widths, possibly some pocket parks and rest areas.

The proposed budget amendment called for allocating $500,000 from unallocated capital funds and $1 million from anticipated TSPLOST money, which the city should start receiving in mid-May.

The money was proposed to be allocated for design work and some construction.

But Councilman Jim Gilvin questioned whether the city should be tapping into the sales tax money to pay for a project that didn’t exist when voters approved the tax in November.

He said the city had listed a series of projects it would fund with TSPLOST money and he hesitated to change that list without more consideration.

“These were the projects that were enumerated as earmarked – to get those projects headed before the next fiscal year started,” Gilvin said. “I’m not sure that’s a proper use of those funds without having them on the list at all.”

Alpharetta’s fiscal year begins in July, and discussions on the FY 2018 budget take place in the weeks prior to its adoption sometime in June.

Councilmen Chris Owens and Jason Binder also raised concerns about the budget amendment.

Owens said construction projects already underway by the city are experiencing some overruns, and he didn’t want to commit funding to a project before the sales tax is even levied.

The transportation sales tax goes into effect April 1, and distributions are expected to begin trickling into municipal coffers sometime in mid-May.

“I think the loop is a great project as a matter of fact,” Owens said. “It’s just a little quick to be jumping like that.”

Binder added that the city really hasn’t fine-tuned its vision for the loops. The City Council has agreed on the concept, but there haven’t been any discussions on exactly what each path would consist of.

“We didn’t agree on the playbook,” Binder said. “We saved that discussion for later.”

The Alpha Loop was first proposed in November and has since drawn high interest among residents.

The city adopted a concept plan for the project in February.

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