By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Board sees balanced 2011 budget
Final approval set for Dec. 2 meeting
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News

In other business

At a Tuesday work session, commissioners also:

• Extended the animal shelter contract with NALAA for one year, with an automatic second-year renewal for $480,000 per year.

• Made some adjustments to the 2010 budget, in part drawing from fund balance to cover unemployment claims, indigent burials, E911 noncompliance and Georgia lease pool expenses.

• Appointed Brian Dill to the development authority unanimously. The board split its four votes in favor of two other candidates for the other empty authority post. Commissioners Patrick Bell and Brian Tam voted for Everett Bennett, while commissioners Jim Boff and Jim Harrell voted in favor of Paul Romanick. The tiebreaker will be held at the next work session with all five members present.

• Approved a resolution authorizing design engineering for Nancy Reagan Drive in the planned Taubman development in south Forsyth. The measure would make the road a county one, allowing it to provide more connectivity.

• Authorized T-Mobile South to submit a conditional use permit application for a cell tower on county-owned green space near Windermere Park.

• Modified the county’s solid waste ordinance to allow the board to set the price of dropping off a bag of trash or recyclables at a convenience center. The price was doubled to 50 cents from 25 cents per bag of trash for those who also recycle. The funds will be designated for capital projects.

Note: All votes were 4-0, with Chairman Charles Laughinghouse absent, unless otherwise noted.

— Alyssa LaRenzie

Forsyth County has achieved some balance.

The proposed 2011 budget, presented to commissioners Tuesday, reflected the same number of about $88.1 million in both the revenue and expenditure columns of the general fund.

“I believe it’s probably one of the most accurate budgets the county’s seen in a long time,” said Commissioner Patrick Bell, who is on the finance committee.

Bell said working with department heads and constitutional officers through the budgeting process this year helped the committee better understand where true needs were and where cuts could be made.

The budget represents an 8.35 percent increase from the 2010 revised budget, which was about $81.4 million.

Earlier this year, the preliminary budget revealed a shortfall of about $13.3 million, with about $93.6 million requested and $79 million in projected revenue.

Commissioners approved a property tax increase in August, which was estimated to generate about $7.5 million.

Some of the increases in the 2011 budget are uncontrollable, Bell said, such as rising health care costs and state mandates contributing to a $1 million increase in the tax commissioner’s budget. Despite the state mandates, that office actually has a $275,000 decrease in its operating budget.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office will get about $36 million, up from its $34.8 million revised 2010 budget, but will also take a cut of about $623,000 in its operating budget.

Salaries and benefits have gone up across the board, but Bell said those increases are due to rising health care costs and restoration of some of the benefits employees lost in 2010.

Those cost-saving measures — which were set to end on Dec. 31 — included seven unpaid holidays, a 3 percent employer match on 401k contributions and freezing sell-back of personal leave.

In 2011, employees will receive four unpaid holidays, the same 401k match and have their personal leave sell-back restored.
Forsyth County also plans to build up its rainy day funds.

The 2011 contingency fund, which is used for unforeseen expenses, has been proposed at $1.3 million. Only $50,000 was set aside in 2010.

The county proposed putting $575,000 into reserves to begin building up its general fund, which at last check, had dipped below the 25 percent of the budget total dictated by policy.

At the end of 2009, the general fund balance was reported to be $14.7 million, though policy would have required it to be about $21 million in 2010.

All special revenue and enterprise funds were proposed with balanced 2011 budgets, with the exception of water and sewer.

County Manager Doug Derrer said the $4.3 million potential shortfall for that fund would continue to be monitored by staff while finalizing the budget.

Residents will get a chance to voice their opinions on the budget during a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18.

The board is expected to adopt the 2011 budget on Dec. 2.