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Budget outlook similar
Officials foresee tight year in 2013
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County’s finance committee has kicked off planning for the 2013 budget.

The schedule for the calendar-year budget will be about the same as last year, with a target date of Oct. 18 for adoption, which is required by year’s end, said David Gruen, finance director.

For 2012, the county adopted a $92.4 million budget.

Though no figures have been projected yet, Gruen expects a similar outlook for 2013.

"We’re anticipating it could be a tight year again," he said Thursday during a meeting of the committee.

Once again, the committee will require departments and offices to submit requests for new items beyond what’s necessary to continue the same level of service, Gruen said.

Commissioner Patrick Bell, a committee member, said he hopes to see no increase or decrease in overall budget requests.

"We don’t need to spend any more dollars," Bell said. "I don’t see there being a millage rate increase."

The millage, or property tax, rate must be set by Aug. 1, and the county plans to hold at least one public hearing in June.

A mill, the rate used to calculate taxes, is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value. Assessed value is 40 percent of actual market value.

A preliminary report from Tax Assessor Mary Kirkpatick showed the county’s digest may drop by about 3 percent this year due to declining values, compared to 4.7 percent last year.

The county sales tax could make up for that decrease, since Gruen noted collections are up nearly 4 percent from last year.

Commissioner Brain Tam, also a committee member, added that the results of the local option sales tax, or LOST, negotiations with the city of Cumming could impact that figure.

LOST is a 1-cent on the dollar tax that helps local governments roll back the property tax rate.

The county and the city must negotiate a split of the proceeds based on services provided by each government and other factors.

The current percentage split between Forsyth County and Cumming is 85-15.