2009-01-08 / Front Page

Fulton County Adopts 2009 Budget

Property tax rate holding at 10 mills
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

As one of their final acts of the year, the Fulton County commissioners gave a final nod to the proposed budget for 2009 that shows revenue totalling $5,973,309 and expenditures at a slightly higher level of $6,277,662 last Tuesday.

Few changes were made to the budget since its initial unveiling on December 1 by commissioners Bonnie Mellott Keefer, Daniel Swain Jr., David Hoover II and business manager Tim Stanton. At the time, the commissioners said due to the current state of the economy and the changes that could occur within certain areas of the budget as a result, they preferred to wait until after the budget was adopted on December 30 to comment publicly.

With the budget holding the line on both real estate (10 mills) and occupation (20 mills) taxes, Commissioner Swain shared with the "News" last week the lone expansion in the scope of services the county will offer in 2009 is a "small contribution" in the amount of $2,000 to the Fulton County Parks and Recreation Commission. All other services will remain the same, Swain added.

"We always aim to run a very cost-effective government and continue to do so this year, particularly in light of the current economic circumstances," he concluded.

In a press release issued by the office of business manager Stanton, the commissioners noted their funding sources decreased by 11 percent as compared to 2008. The most significant of the decreases is the county's decision to not obtain its annual tax anticipation loan.

"In 2008 a loan was obtained in the amount of $590,000, which was paid back to the bank when real estate taxes were received. It is currently believed the county will have adequate cash in 2009 without acquiring a loan, which will save the county the cost of interest," they stated.

Other decreases included a drop in governmental general expenditures by 5 percent, which has been mainly attributed to staff restructuring, as well as public-safety expenditures. Cost in that specific area decreased by 10 percent as a direct result of the restructuring of 911 service payments. Furthermore, the cost of conservation efforts dropped drastically by 29 percent in connection with a successful gypsy moth spray program for area homeowners.

Categories seeing increases in expenditures are judicial and human service costs. Through the court system, a rise of 6 percent is budgeted to account for changes in public defender costs, court-appointed attorneys and domestic relations. Meanwhile, human services expenditures are slated to rise 4 percent for changes in the Services For Children.

"The vast majority of the expenditures for the county are required by laws of the commonwealth. Where costs have increased as a result of mandates of the commonwealth, the county has been successful in controlling costs in other areas, and being able to maintain a healthy balance sheet in order to prevent additional taxation to the residents of Fulton County," the commissioners concluded in their announcement.

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