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Budget gap almost gone
Requested cuts narrow shortfall
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Forsyth County News

After additional department and office cuts, Forsyth County has whittled its 2012 budget gap to about $430,000 —a mere fraction of its $90.2 million budget.

About two weeks ago, the general fund shortfall stood at $1.3 million.

At that time, the finance committee asked the departments to look through their budgets again to find 1.5 percent in additional cuts.

As of Tuesday, most had responded to the request, turning in cuts totaling about $950,000, said David Gruen, the county’s finance director.

The steepest of those came from Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, which also represents the largest portion of the general fund.

Reducing inmate housing and medical netted a total cut of $540,000.

Those costs can be difficult to project, Gruen said, and are based on growth assumptions.

Commissioner Patrick Bell said those expenses typically go over budget, and recommended a general cut of an equal amount Sheriff Ted Paxton could draw from anywhere.

"I’d hate to set him up for failure," Bell said.

The current budget projections also included:

•Recommended cuts and additions from the finance committee.

•The expected revenue from the advertised millage rate.

•A $500,000 transfer from the solid waste fund.

•A 3 percent cost-of-living increase for employees instead of a 2 percent 401K increase.

"We’ll balance this budget and have a proposed balanced budget for the board’s consideration on Thursday, July 7," Gruen said.

Also during that meeting, the commission will hold a public hearing on the 2012 millage rate, which has been advertised as the same as 2011.

It seems unlikely the county will need to dip into its reserve fund, but the review of the 2010 audit on Tuesday showed that the county’s savings exceed policy.

At the close of 2010, the county had about $27 million in reserves.

According to policy, the county strives to keep 25 percent of the annual general fund budget in the fund. For 2012, that figure would need to be about $22.5 million.

Gruen has previously said that reimbursement of 1-cent sales tax project advances and other revenues have contributed to the increase.

The audit, completed by contracted firm Mauldin & Jenkins, found only minor fixes needed in financial reporting, representative Adam Fraley told the commission Tuesday.

"We believe that these … do present fairly in all material respects the financial results of operations and conditions of the county," Fraley said.