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County looks to trim costs
Furloughs, cuts to staff possible
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County commissioners continue to look at options for cutting costs in the proposed 2010 budget.

Chief Financial Officer Bill Thomas said Tuesday that several possibilities — among them, countywide furloughs, a millage rate hike and staff cuts —  may be necessary to make up the more than $7 million projected deficit.

Furloughs, or man-datory, unpaid time off work for all county employees, could save the county $1.75 million in the 2010 budget, which is projected at $90.5 million.

That figure comes from proposed one-day-per-month furloughs, which could save $146,192 per month.

Raising the millage rate by 0.85 mills could generate $7.2 million through the maintenance and operations levy.

The final millage increase will not be determined until public hearings scheduled for next month.

If adopted at that rate, the increase would bring the millage rate to 4.684.

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

Further measures could include eliminating 33 positions, according to County Manager Doug Derrer.

“A majority of these are vacant, frozen positions,” he said.

But Derrer did not rule out a more drastic cut of 65 positions, some of which “would affect those currently on staff.”

Trimming 65 positions could save the county about $3.5 million, assuming an annual employee cost of $55,022, according to Thomas.

To determine “core staffing levels,” the county is consulting a staff utilization study performed by an outside agency. The study has not been made public.

Reducing staff levels, raising the millage rate and furloughs could be used alone or as a combination of cost-savings options.

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 benefits and pensions.

Last week’s projections showed a 2010 budget of $90.4 million, but about $100,000 more was discovered in health care costs to the county.

Increasing health care costs to county employees is another option, Thomas said. Raising employee costs by 50 percent per month would decrease the county’s health care contribution by about $1.7 million per year.

Commissioners will further discuss these options at a special called meeting July 1.

Public hearings for the millage rate, which has yet to be set, are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. July 14. The rate could be set July 30.

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

E-mail Frank Reddy at