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County reviews budget for 2015
Millage rate not set until mid-July
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Forsyth County News

FORSYTH COUNTY — Forsyth County commissioners last week got their first look at the 2015 county budget, for which a tax increase appears unlikely.

During a work session Tuesday afternoon, finance director David Gruen offered a preliminary overview of the proposed nearly $101 million budget.

Based on the early figures, Gruen said the general fund budget is running at least $1.3 million over the projected revenue. And based on requests from department heads for additional staff, equipment and raises, that figure could reach $5.3 million.

However, he said department heads would continue to work with his staff over the next few weeks to chip away at that number before bringing a more definite draft of the preliminary budget to the commissioners June 24.  

While the county’s millage rate will not be set until July 17, Gruen said he doesn’t anticipate an increase in the county’s maintenance and operations rate of 4.812 mills. That rate has remained in place since 2011.

The community will have its chance to address commissioners about the millage rate during three public hearings, which have been set for 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. July 3 and 6 p.m. July 17.

After the millage rate is set, work will continue toward developing the final 2015 budget in September, followed by a public hearing Oct. 16. The commission is slated to adopt the final budget Nov. 6.

On Tuesday, Gruen said projected revenue for the general fund is about $101 million, while anticipated expenditures — if nothing is added to the services provided by the departments — total about $102 million.

Revenue is expected to be about 5 percent higher than in 2014, when it was $96 million.

Nearly 42 percent of the anticipated revenue will come from property taxes, Gruen projected, with the next highest portion, about 26 percent, coming from sales taxes.

If no new staff or equipment is added for 2015, expenditures are estimated to be nearly 6.5 percent more than those of the $96 million spending plan for 2014.

The largest percentage of expenditures, more than 38 percent, is slated for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, followed by “general government” at 22 percent, and culture and recreation at 13 percent.

Other areas, such as judicial, “other public safety,” health and welfare, and housing and development make up the remainder.

Besides the general fund, Gruen also touched on the fire fund, for which revenues and expenditures are expected to total $17.4 million.

He also reviewed the water and sewer fund, with anticipated revenue and expenditures there of about $55 million.

Bond revenue and expenditures, he said, are anticipated to come in at $10.2 million.