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Finance committee takes first look at Forsyths budget for 2017

CUMMING — The Forsyth County Finance Committee began the 2017 budget process during a called meeting Wednesday.

According to a budget made with preliminary numbers, the county will take in about $116 million in tax revenue next year, up from about $109 million in 2016.

The county’s expenditures also look poised to rise from last year’s nearly $109 million budget.

“With all the changes, requests and everything else we have right now, what we’ve put into the system without some additional items … this is what we’ll call same service budget, we’re showing expenditures of just over $124 million,” said Dave Gruen, the county’s chief financial officer.

That leaves about a gap of $8.6 million between tax revenue and expenditures.

Gruen said that all numbers being used were preliminary, and the amount for expenditures would likely rise due to new and enhanced budget items totaling about $3 million.

Another large expense in the budget is employee health care, which will increase about 20.1 percent to $2.6 million.

Overall, the county will also be receiving more in tax money next year.

“Preliminary gross tax digest total, that’s the bottom line before the exemptions compared to last year, is up 4.24 percent from last year at this point,” Gruen said. “It’s preliminary, and I’m sure it’s going to change.”

Affecting the tax digest was a motor vehicle tax, which Gruen said had been replaced with an ad valorem tax. The motor vehicle tax dropped by about 26 percent due to new state laws, and brought down the total digest.

The committee soon will begin meeting with the various county departments to discuss budget items for 2017.

“Next week we start meeting with all the departments on the county manager side, going through the detail and budget requests,” Gruen said.

The finance committee is made up of Gruen, County Manager Doug Derrer and Commissioners Pete Amos, Todd Levent, Cindy Jones Mills and Brian Tam. No action was taken during the meeting.

The finance committee will continue refining the county’s budget until it is ready for approval this fall.