This week, the process for reaching a 2018 budget took another step, but cuts still need to be made.
On Wednesday, the Forsyth County Finance Committee met to continue to trim the budget and make decisions on budget requests from county departments. The budget will next be discussed by com-missioners at Tuesday’s work session.
A lot of numbers were discussed as the Forsyth County Finance Committee discussed cuts to the 2018 budget. Below are a few that stood out:
- $273 million expected revenues from SPLOST VIII, which will be up for voter approval in 2018. The first $100 million will go to paying county road bonds
- $6.5 million needed to be cut at the start of the meeting to reach a balanced budget
- The county’s millage rate for 2017 is 8.036 mills, which committee members favored keeping
- The E-911 department requested $427,615 for a geo-redundant prime site, which would help with is-sues when the department loses power
- Fire Chief Danny Bowman requested $150,000 to promote six lieutenants to fire captains for leader-ship roles on hook and ladder trucks
The only formal action taken at the meeting was approving to advertise the tax rate, which will not change from this year.
At the beginning of the meeting, about $6.5 million needed to be cut to reach a balanced budget.
SPLOST VIII on Nov. 2018 ballot
The committee also discussed the proposed SPLOST VIII, a special 1 cent sales tax to go toward county needs. Interim County Manager Tim Merritt said departments initially requested more than $450 mil-lion in items.
“That does not include any estimates of cost from the courts or estimates of cost from the sheriff’s department,” Merritt said.
Merritt said the sheriff’s office was considering a new firing range and building and that the courts wanted to build out the fourth floor of the Forsyth County Courthouse, which opened in 2015.
A special called meeting to discuss SPLOST VIII was held in February. At that meeting, Forsyth County Chief Financial Officer Dave Gruen said the county could bring in up to $273 million if the economy con-tinues to grow.
The first $100 million collected would go to county road bonds, including one issued for the widening of Ga. 400. Cumming also receives SPLOST funds.
SPLOST VIII must be approved by voters, and it appears it will go on the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot.
Committee members favored meeting with departments to discuss items as the process moves for-ward.
Fire department requests
Fire Chief Danny Bowman was present at the meeting to discuss needs of the department and where cuts could be made after issues arose at a previous committee meeting.
Bowman said one of the highest priority items was $150,000 to promote six lieutenants to fire captains for leadership roles on hook and ladder trucks, the largest in the county’s fleet.
He also clarified comments about a $65,000 request for doorbell-type additions to county fire stations that would alert firefighters and call 911 if pressed for citizens who came to fire stations overnight. He explained why the device made more sense than calling on cell phones, as had been suggested as an alternative.
“My problem that I have with individuals using cell phones, sometimes they hit the wrong county,” Bowman said.
E-911 makes budget proposals
Pat Giordano, director of the E-911 center, said the highest priority item for the department was a geo-redundant prime site, which would help with issues when the department loses power and is part of a 10-year strategic plan.
“This will give us more ability to stay inside trunking, which means that we’re operating and the con-soles are working and we’re communicating with those in the field way more stable that it is now,” she said.
The item would cost $427,615.
A microwave backhaul system costing about $1.2 million was the second most important item, which was moved from the general fund to the capital fund.
There was also back and forth between the committee and the department over the type of trucks requested.