Also during their meeting Thursday, Forsyth County commissioners:
• Gave final approval for the expansion of the Fowler Wastewater Treatment Plant and use of the current General Electric membranes, as recommended by staff.
The county will contribute about $946,000 from the water and sewer fund toward the expansion of its plant, which is operated by AECOM.
The vote was 4-1, with Commissioner Patrick Bell opposed because he favored a different membrane provider.
• Moved the public hearing on a county-initiated rezoning of property owned by James S. Mashburn Trust and Mashburn Farms from July 5 to Aug. 2.
The rezoning from Residential 4 to Residential 6 is related to the potential settlement of Mashburn v. Forsyth County & Buckhorn.
The vote was 4-0, with Commissioner Pete Amos recused.
• Approved changes to the alcohol ordinance to reformat the process for sanctions on employee sales permits, which would allow staff to review first-time violations.
The commission also modified the code to allow for discount drink sales at restaurants for one category of alcoholic beverage for a full day.
Note: All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.
— Alyssa LaRenzie
Forsyth County officials plan to balance the 2013 budget without an increase in property taxes.
Commissioners voted 5-0 on Thursday to advertise no change in the millage rates from this year and set a public hearing on the matter for July 5.
The commission plans to adopt the tax rate for 2013 on July 19, prior to the state-required deadline at the end of July.
The county must adopt its budget by the year’s end, and plans to do so in October.
As it stands, the preliminary expenses recommended for the 2013 general fund total about $2.2 million more than the anticipated revenue, said David Gruen, the county’s finance director.
However, that shouldn’t impact the commission’s plans to hold the millage steady, he said.
“We are now at the point where between staff and finance committee actions, we can see now that there are sufficient options to be able to bring in the general fund budget as a balanced budget … without raising the tax rate,” Gruen said during the commission’s meeting.
The finance committee reviewed some of those options at a separate meeting earlier Thursday.
Gruen said the county’s possible shortfall grew slightly as the final tax digest came in, since the figure was a larger drop than projected.
The decline of the digest, or taxable portion of the county’s total property value, is about 2.2 percent from the prior year, instead of the 1 percent estimated.
That amounts to about $466,000 less for the county’s general fund than initial projections showed.
In total, the county is planning on a budget based on about $89.6 million in expected revenue.
Preliminary expenses total about $91.8 million, for a gap of about $2.2 million to close.
Gruen presented about $4 million in options that the county could cut or fund elsewhere during the meeting of the finance committee, which includes Commissioners Patrick Bell and Brian Tam.
Nearly $1.4 million could be eliminated by continuing the county’s 401k match at 3 percent, which was set to sunset this year, rather than returning to the previous 5 percent contribution employees received in 2009.
Capital requests, such as vehicles or computers, could possibly be obtained through a lease pool to save money or handled this year, Gruen said.
During a work session Tuesday, the commissioners are scheduled to review the county audit, which will include closing 2011 numbers on how much Forsyth has in reserves.
The commission also plans to look at the figures in the 2013 preliminary budget to work on balancing the two sides.