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County faces budget gap
Tax hike a possibility
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County’s chief financial officer gave commissioners and staff a first glimpse at the proposed 2010 budget Tuesday.

“The general fund is not balanced,” Bill Thomas said. “In order to achieve a balanced budget, you’re going to need to come up with $7 million worth of revenues.”

To make up the difference in the projected $90.4 million budget, which Thomas attributed to a rise in expenditures, the county has some options.

The use of county reserves — while not recommended by Thomas — is one possibility, as are cutting service levels or raising the millage rate by 0.84 mills.

The possible hike would raise the current maintenance and operations levy to 4.674.

According to Thomas, at that rate, a house assessed at $200,000 would see a tax increase of about $73.50 per year.

A mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

Proposed changes from last year’s budget include a 7.9 percent increase in expenditures due to depleted internal service surpluses. The funds most affected, Thomas said, were employee health and pension.

He said the county used surpluses in past years to “minimize costs to the general fund and other funds.” They have since been exhausted, though they could someday be replaced, possibly in 2011.

This development raised expenditures for 2010 to $90.4 million, with revenues anticipated at $83.2 million. Budget expenditures from 2009 were $84.1 million.

Other methods for balancing the proposed 2010 budget, as well as offsetting costs in the current 2009 budget, were brought forward by County Manager Doug Derrer.

Derrer referred to a staff utilization study the county has had an outside agency conduct “in an effort to establish core staffing levels.”

The study has been completed, but not released. Derrer asked the commission to consider “a reduction of positions of which a majority are vacant at this time.”

Commissioners will further discuss the study, as well as the possible millage rate increase, on June 16.

Public hearings for the millage rate change are scheduled for July 14 and 16 at the county administration building.

A final version of the 2010 budget may be approved at a public hearing Dec. 17.