The process of finalizing the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget for Fayette County continued with the first public hearing at Thursday night’s Board of Commissioners meeting.

Chief Financial Officer Mary Parrott led the presentation. The general fund balance is expected to see an increase of more than $540,000, and the property tax millage rate rollback will bring taxpayers a savings of $599,966.

“We’re very proud of the millage rate,” said Parrott, noting that Fayette has the second-lowest rate among comparable Metro Atlanta counties. “As you know, we have rolled back the millage rate for several years.”

County Administrator Steve Rapson again lauded the ability to bring savings to taxpayers.

“This is the sixth consecutive year we’ve rolled back the property taxes, so the property tax rollback this year is equivalent to $600,000,” he said, noting that if they had the same millage rate from when they started tax revenues would have brought in $21 million more over that span. “In essence that’s $21 million that we’ve rolled back to taxpayers that they would see as a tax benefit that otherwise they wouldn’t have had.”

In addition to the millage rate rollback, he said that it is the sixth straight year they have not had to raise rates on healthcare benefits for employees. Even though they have had to tweak coverage plans and make other modifications, he said, “That’s pretty much an anomaly as well.”

The budget is the result of cooperation of a lot of entities, from staff to department heads to the justice center.

“Just because it looks easy, doesn’t mean that it’s easy,” he said.

Debate over a number of items discussed at the budget retreat and not included in the proposed budget could continue at the next meeting. Those topics include adding a Magistrate Court law clerk and a Superior Court deputy clerk, supplements and stipends for judges and the DUI Court, and non-profit funding.

Commissioners expressed support for a proposed change to the performance pay distribution system. The new bell curve would break performers into three categories, the bottom 10 percent of non-performers, the bulk of average performers at 70 percent, and the top performers at 20 percent.

The second public hearing, at which time the commissioners will vote on adopting the budget is set for June 28.