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County budget hearing tonight

Final vote likely later this month

POSTED: October 4, 2012 12:33 a.m.

Forsyth County commissioners will open the floor for comments on the 2013 proposed budget during a meeting today.

The proposed budget will be presented at 5 p.m., followed by a public hearing in suite 220 of the Forsyth County Administration Building.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the budget Oct. 18 instead of immediately following the hearing.

David Gruen, the county’s finance director, has said the $89.6 million general fund budget proposed for 2013 is a surface level 3-percent decrease from the 2012 budget of about $92.4 million.

“The reason why it appears that way is because certain funds have been moved into new funds and some other funds have come into the general fund,” Gruen said at a previous work session.

By accounting for those funds comparable to in 2012, the proposed 2013 budget would be an increase of about $3.3 million, or 3.6 percent, according to Gruen.

In July, commissioners voted to leave the property tax rate the same as in 2012.

The changes in accounting include the addition of three new, separate funds for grants, insurance premium taxes and capital purchases.

The proposed budget also reflects the closure of three internal service funds, which charge departments for costs associated with other departments.

Those include administration, GIS and public facilities.

The reduction in internal service charges has a significant impact on the bottom line for the sheriff’s office, which accounts for nearly 41 percent of the general fund proposed budget.

Moving those three funds out reduces the agency’s charges by nearly $2 million.

Overall, the sheriff’s office proposed 2013 budget is nearly $36.7 million, compared to about $37.5 million in 2012.

One of the county’s main hurdles in balancing the 2013 proposed budget was the rising costs of health care.

However, changes to the medical insurance program helped reduce those expenses, according to Gruen.

In the past few months, commissioners approved a change in its provider, an optional wellness program designed to monitor employee health and an increase in employee contributions for the same coverage.

Those program modifications, Gruen said, made it possible to include a 3 percent salary increase for employees across the board, whether the commission chooses to offer a cost-of-living adjustment or merit raises.

The proposed budget also includes a 4 percent match for 401K contributions, up from 3 percent in 2012.

Also adding to the county’s expenses, the addition of a third superior court judge is budgeted to cost about $732,500 in 2013, including associated positions and needed space.

Overall, about $1.1 million in new budget funding is recommended for approval in 2013.

Other balanced funds include the primarily tax-supported fire fund, proposed at about $16.5 million, and the enterprise-based water and sewer fund of about $43.9 million.


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