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Forsyth County finance committee holds first meeting on 2018 budget

While it may feel like 2017 just got here, Forsyth County officials are already working on the 2018 budget.

The Forsyth County Finance Committee held its first meeting of the year on Wednesday to begin the 2018 budget process.

“Usually what we do every year at this time is give commissioners and this committee the chance to give some input on the budget process this year,” said Dave Gruen, the county’s chief financial officer.

The committee began by discussing the county’s total millage rate, which includes a maintenance and operations rate, fire rate and bond rate. Only the fire is expected to increase.

“With all the new fire stations opening and salaries going up, [Fire Chief Danny Bowman] was concerned,” Commission Chairman Todd Levent said.

A millage rate is used in the formula to calculate property taxes. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, and assessed value is 40 percent of the actual market price.

If approved, the fire rate would likely raise by .4 mills. The rate for 2017’s budget was 1.975 mills.

District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said the committee should keep an eye on transportation project costs.

“The biggest worry for me is transportation and the bond, how every project is coming in [over],” Mills said.

The committee discussed having a policy to reevaluate the costs of projects approved years ago.

Also discussed was an internal control program to update audit procedures. A formal resolution will need to be drafted by County Attorney Ken Jarrard and adopted by commissioners.

In February, meetings were held with county departments and offices to begin working on budgets. In May, the county manager will meet with the departments to discuss budgets, and the committee will meet with elected officials the following week.

The committee will hold its next meeting on April 19, and the preliminary budget will be presented to county commissioners on June 20. The final budget will be adopted on Nov. 17.

The finance committee is made up of Gruen, Levent, Mills, Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt and District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson.