2012-12-06 / Front Page

1.2 Mill Increase, County Budget To Be Adopted

On display for public review
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
NEWS EDITOR

The proposed general operating budget for Fulton County was put on public display last week and will remain available for public inspection until its formal adoption later this month.

The document, which includes a narrative and budget summary as well as pie charts breaking down expenditures and revenue, was formally made public last Tuesday by commissioners Rodney McCray, Craig Cutchall and Irvin Dasher and business manager Tim Stanton. According to reports, the budget is tentatively slated for final adoption at the commissioners’ December 18 meeting.

The proposal itself was months in the making for the trio of elected county officials and their business manager, who have tentatively agreed to a 1.2 mill increase in real estate taxes to help eliminate a projected shortfall and jump-start what would have otherwise been a “flat” tax revenue. As part of the process, department managers were informed in advance their budget expenditures for 2013 should not exceed that of the current 2012 calendar year. In the event an increase in expenses was desired, the commissioners were to be presented with justification and appropriate documentation.

“In addition, all expenditures were compared to a five-year budget trend with an understanding of variances form those trend,” the officials said in their budget narrative. “When the 2013 budget was completed it had a $420,000 budget deficit without a millage increase. Over the last 12 months the county has been projecting an estimated 2013 budget deficit of $424,000 with an estimated millage adjustment needed of 1.25 mills. The proposed budget millage adjustment is 1.20 mills, which would change the millage rate on real estate from 10.95 to 12.15 mills.”

The officials went on to note that the main source of income for the county continues to be tax revenue at 70 percent of the county revenue.

Funding sources for the 2013 proposed budget that has overall funding ringing in at $6,556,740 are taxes, $4,592,483; licenses/permits, $18,085; intergovernmental revenues, $1,257,090; departmental charges, $340,456; fines, $154,000; operating transfers in, $95,406; and miscellaneous, $99,220.

Meanwhile, proposed expenditures for 2013 total $6,548,658, leaving the county with a budget surplus of $8,082. The budget summary indicates expenditures are broken down into 10 categories, including general government, $1,202,862; judicial, $1,276,363; public safety, $1,190,585; human services, $1,239,092; culture/recreation, $10,000; conservation/development, $103,651; debt service, $375,011; employee benefits, $950,200; operating transfers out, $120,623; and miscellaneous, $80,271.

“The single largest expenditure cost of the county is salary and benefits, which is 55 percent of the budget,” said the county officials, who added two new positions were created for next year, a probation officer and an administrative assistant. “The probation officer is partially funded with a grant for the first two years. The administrative assistant would be in the expenditure category of general government. In the 2013, there is a reduction of one employee in the maintenance department as compared to 2012.”

The commissioners and Stanton stated that other expenses are very similar to what the county expected to spend by the end of 2012, aside from several exceptions. Among those are a $30,000 increase in employee health insurance, a $60,000 jump in funding the county’s retirement funding and an anticipated $68,000 increase for housing prison inmates. Furthermore, debt service will rise by $47,000 as a result of a 2009 project being completed and additional borrowing this year.

The budget narrative also makes reference to the county be- ing required to use an estimated $50,000 in general funding to cover 911 backup dispatch center costs. “The 911 center normally would be self-sustaining from grant revenue. However, in 2013 expenditures will exceed the expected cash flow from the grant revenue,” they said.

“During 2013 the county will continue to look for opportunities to control government costs while maintaining a professional staff that can deliver the services that are needed in Fulton County,” they concluded.

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