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County finds some money to spend
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Forsyth County News

 

Everywhere, it seems, people are looking for the tiniest bits of optimistic news to show some improvement in the woeful economic conditions that have plagued the country and much of the world for the past few years.

Maybe those in search of an economic bright spot need to look at the Forsyth County Commission.

Obviously, things are on the upswing for the local economy. How else to explain the decision last week to give the county manager a 22 percent pay raise; an earlier vote to pay a possible $50,000 a year for banking services that had been offered for free; and the ongoing negotiations to secure six new lakeside parks from the corps of engineers for the county to operate?

Clearly, the local financial picture must be looking rosy.

While other government entities are consumed with worry about employee furloughs, stagnated salaries and potential tax increases, Forsyth commissioners have raised the salary of County Manager Doug Derrer from $133,000 to $158,757, an increase of 22 percent. They also hiked his vehicle allowance an extra $1,211 per year, taking it to $7,211.

The move came after a study comparing top executive positions in various county governments. Derrer has done a good job as county manager since being promoted to that position in 2009, but it’s hard to justify 20 percent increases at the top of the ladder when pennies are being pinched on the lower rungs.

Prior to the Derrer decision, commissioners decided to ignore the recommendation of county staffers in voting on a bank to handle the county’s business. The end result was the selection of a bank that expects annual service fees to be an estimated $30,000 to $50,000, when another bank offered services for free. The deciding factor, according to at least one of the two commissioners voting on the yes side, was the chosen bank’s reputation for customer service.

Prior to either of those two votes, the county announced that it was on the verge of an agreement with the corps of engineers that would give it the right to develop and operate six lakeside park properties.

The six sites combined would add more than 370 acres of new parkland for which the county will be reponsible. No price tag for developing and operating the parks has been publicly discussed.

All in all, things must be looking pretty good for the county’s checking acount these days. And to think it was just a few months ago local officials were worried about getting a budget to balance without making draconian cuts in services.

Maybe the county government should be added to those economic indicators the experts study when assessing the state of the nation’s financial condition. If it were, it would be obvious that times must be better indeed.