Forsyth County’s 2018 budget took another step toward approval this week.
On Thursday, the Forsyth County Finance Committee discussed changes to the 2018 budget following a series of meetings with county departments held earlier this month.
“This meeting is our first Finance Committee meeting after we have completed the budget request process and [County CFO Dave Gruen] has had an opportunity to go through and look at all the requests,” Interim County Manager Tim Merritt said.
After decisions were made at the meeting, committee members will look over the numbers before a meeting on Wednesday.
In addition to looking at potential expenses, the committee also looked at revenues to come in in 2018, including an 8 percent increase in the tax digest.
About $3.7 million is expected to be paid in property taxes in 2018 and another $3.5 million for other taxes such as, LOST, cable TV franchise ta, title ad valorem tax and others.
It is estimated that the county will bring in a total of around $126 million in revenues in 2018. Other than taxes, licenses and permits, fines and forfeitures, department revenues and other funding sources make up the projected revenues.
The budget for 2017 is about $118 million, meaning 2018 will be about a 6.4 percent increase.
Before cutting items, the proposed budget for 2018 was $133 million, meaning about 7.6 million would need to be cut for a balanced budget.
Early in the meeting, Sheriff Ron Freeman discussed a request from his department to add a firing range for training, which he said had an estimated cost of $900,000.
“It’s costing the sheriff’s office right around $100,000 a year to conduct firearms training outside Forsyth County,” Freeman said. “By the time we have the travel time to and from the range, we’re typically using Pickens County’s range … when you add the 274 deputies we have carrying guns, basically it’s 51 minutes there, 51 minutes back.”
Freeman said he is looking at a potential area owned by the county and that the site would be open for public use when not being used by the sheriff’s office.
New dog park
County Way, already home to the county animal shelter, could see more critters in the area.
At the meeting, a proposed two-acre dog park on County Way was discussed with an estimated cost of $250,000.
“I think you’ll wind up having a good number of people there, plus, because it’s so close to the existing animal shelter, the desire or the hope is if we get them to the dog park, they may go across the street and increase our adoptions,” Merritt said.
Most of the facility will be fit with synthetic turf.
Merritt said the county is already doing a master plan on the area and would bring a change order to Tuesday’s work session to move ahead with design on the dog park so grading can match other plans.
The committee also supported moving ahead with a therapeutic program for those with disabilities. The total cost would be about $176,000.