Forest Park’s mayor, city council, and other city officials will hold a budget retreat next week at the Foxhall Resort, a luxury destination in Douglasville where some rooms cost more than many city residents make in a week.

Foxhall Resort’s regular public rates during the City of Forest Park’s upcoming budget retreat run $250 to $525 per night, according to a check of their website on Saturday, January 14, 2023. It’s not clear why city officials needed to book a long weekend at a luxury resort at taxpayers’ expense to discuss the city’s budget.

The retreat falls under Georgia’s Open Meetings Act and is therefore open to the public. It will take place at 8000 Capps Ferry Road.

City officials are scheduled to check in on Thursday, January 19 and check out on Sunday, January 22. A city spokesman did not provide an agenda for the retreat and did not give any specific details about what would be discussed within the budget.

The city made public notice of the meeting by posting a paper notice at the front door of City Hall. Notice of the meeting did not appear in online searches of public notices nor on the city’s website banner or calendar of events.

Last year, Forest Park officials held another budget retreat far from local residents at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Hotel at Stone Mountain Park. The cost for that three-day weekend was $19,096.94, according to documents obtained through an open records request filed by The Clayton Crescent.

By comparison, here’s how the City of Savannah and the Clayton County Water Authority announced its budget retreats to the public. It’s not clear why a meeting about handling public tax dollars is being held at a high-end resort that is between a half-hour and an hour long drive from City Hall.

Several documents related to the FY 2023 budget can be found at the bottom of the city’s Financial Reports page. As of press time, these include:

Forest Park’s median household income is $37,370, its average household income is $49,040, and its per-capita income is $18,823, based on the U.S. Census and American Community Survey 2021 five-year estimate.

Converting those annual salaries to weekly pay, Forest Park residents’ median household weekly take-home pay is $560.55, average household weekly take-home pay is $735.60, and per-capita weekly take-home pay is $282.34. (Those figures are after taxes are taken out.)

While the city likely got a specially-priced room rate and conference package, published rates on Foxhall’s website show rooms available for between $250 and $525 per night during the retreat.

Forest Park also has extremely low voter turnout. Only 917 residents voted in the last mayor’s race in November 2021, with 788 voting in the December 2021 runoff. In 2021, the city had 19,798 residents. That means 4/100ths of one percent of Forest Park residents turned out for the primary and 3/100ths of one percent cast votes in the runoff.

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

Leave a comment