County takes in-depth look at budget for 2019

Budget season is upon us. The County Board of Commissioners ramped up the process towards their Fiscal Year 2019 budget with a special called workshop Thursday afternoon, taking a look at the basic numbers that will be key to the finished product.

Chief Finance Officer Mary Parrott and County Administrator Steve Rapson shared the lead in presenting the FY 2019 numbers to the commissioners.
The budget achieves the planning goals of no deficit budgeting or use of unassigned fund balance, steady employee benefits (medical, dental, vision, and retirement), Capital Improvement Program continuation, and no property tax increase.

With $100,588,648 in total revenues coming in and an expected $94,948,149 in expenditures with a continuation of the rolling five-year Capital Improvement Program at $6,358,858, there should be a positive impact of $540,250 to the General Fund balance.

A breakdown of revenues coming into the General Fund shows 56.9 percent coming from property taxes and 25.8 percent from sales tax. The bulk of General Fund expenditures goes towards public safety (39.1 percent), with general government uses (18.9), Public Works (14.1), and Judicial System (11.1) next in line.

The 2018 millage rate rollback will bring of a savings of nearly $600,000 for taxpayers. With no tax increase in the last six years, that makes a cumulative savings of $21.5 million for taxpayers since 2013.

“When you hear about the cities doing a bunch of stuff and having a good fund balance, they’ve had a lot of tax increases to get there,” Rapson said. “We’ve not had a tax increase in the last six years.

“That’s a big deal, $21.5 million is a big deal. Those are taxpayer funds that the taxpayer gets to spend, as opposed to the government getting to spend it.”

Parrott identified recruitment of qualified personnel and staff and leadership development as the top issues facing state and local governments.
Some of the perks that could be offered to lure new workers are flex hours and teleworking, which would appeal to a younger generation of worker. Parrott noted that the finance department has experimented with teleworking and found it very helpful in completing critical processes when weather or other issues arise.

Staff training has been paying off, and staff is asking for it to continue.

“We’re seeing the results,” Parrott said.

Rapson was quick to credit the department heads and their cooperation, including several lobbying for the needs of other departments ahead of their own.

“It’s very unusual to have 26 department heads all rolling in the same direction, and that’s really what we have here.”

The first public hearing for the budget is scheduled for Thursday, June 14, with the second public hearing and vote slated for Thursday, June 28.

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Christopher Dunn has been the sports editor for Fayette Newspapers since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Game Day magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.


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