2011-12-29 / Front Page

County Sets Real Estate Taxes At 10.95 Mills

Commissioners adopt 2012 budget; any amendments must be adopted on or before February 15
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

The Fulton County commissioners perused the proposed 2012 budget one last time Tuesday morning before giving it a final nod of approval.

Not surprising given the ongoing talks with department heads and business manager Tim Stanton, the final 2012 budget adopted by commissioners Bonnie Mellott Keefer, Craig Cutchall and David Hoover II contained some slightly different numbers than were originally presented to the public on December 6 during tentative acceptance. On December 27, the adoption saw expenditures ringing in at $6,488,325. Revenues came in slightly lower at $6,222,102, showing a budget shortfall of $266,223.

The commissioners noted there were not any “significant” changes made to the original budget for 2012, nor did they encounter or hear much feedback on the budget that includes a .95 millage increase in real estate taxes. The new real estate rate was accordingly set at 10.95 mills and will, in turn, generate just shy of $4.213 million in income. Occupation taxes will remain unchanged at 20 mills.

In a statement released by Keefer, board chairperson, the commissioners pointed out that 2011 began with a shortfall in the amount of $444,000. It will end later this week, however, with a balanced budget. To reach equilibrium in revenue and expenses, reductions were made in six key areas that included reduced health insurance premiums; reduced retirement expenses; reduced legal expenditures; reduced placement of children; reduced inmate expenditures; and reduced debt service.

“Due to the efforts of the business manager, the county was very successful in controlling costs in numerous areas,” Keefer said. “The commissioners commend Stanton on a job well done.”

Furthermore, Stanton reported in his annual budget summary “expenditures are less in 2012 when compared to the original 2011 budget. 2012 expenditures are at the same level as 2010 budget expenditures. The county will continue to look for opportunities to reduce expenditures in 2012.”

The most significant expense for the county on an annual basis is salaries and benefits. That specific budget category comprises 56 percent of the budget and at this time includes a 2.9 percent cost-of-living increase for county employees.

Other major costs to the county are professional services (27 percent of the budget) and debt service (5 percent). Other expenses ranging from 1 to 3 percent are supplies, insurance, utilities, repairs, travel and education, subsidies and miscellaneous costs.

Revenue for the year, beyond the 66 percent income from taxes, include federal/state operating grants (19 percent); service charges (6 percent); prior year surplus (4 percent); reimbursements (3 percent); fines (2 percent); and rent, interest and license and permits (less than 1 percent).

The newest board of Fulton County commissioners, which will comprise Cutchall, Rodney Mc- Cray and Irvin Dasher, will officially be sworn into office next Tuesday. Following taking office, the newly-elected board will have the month of January to reopen the budget and make any adjustments it finds necessary.

County code dictates once amended the commissioners must display the document for public inspection for a period of 10 days. An amended budget must be adopted by the board on or before February 15.

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