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Gap in budget for 2011 looms
Department heads discuss finances
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Forsyth County News
Faced with a possible $13.6 million budget shortfall in 2011, Forsyth County’s finance committee is meeting with department heads this week to discuss their proposed budgets.

Doug Derrer, county manager, explained that requested expenses total $92.6 million while revenues are estimated at $79 million, about the same as for 2010.

He said the committee will have a better idea of the county’s financial state in June, once the county’s tax digest is complete.

Early projections reviewed last week by the Forsyth County Board of Education show the digest is expected to fall about 4.14 percent.

Derrer said the 2011 budget includes 401K packages, paid holidays and personal leave, expenses that were removed from the 2010 budget.

Forsyth County Commissioner Patrick Bell, who is on the finance committee, said the employee benefits that have returned in the proposed 2011 budget are still subject to a vote by the commission.

Meetings began Monday and are expected to continue today.

“We’re not here today to necessarily talk about slashing the budget to get part of that $13 million [shortfall],” Derrer told Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn. “This is just for you to present your budget and any justifications you want to provide to us.”

Penn said her proposal includes an additional $12,000 for travel and accommodations for witnesses in an upcoming trial against the Final Exit Network.

“We have this assisted suicide case that has witnesses from all over the country,” she said. “And I anticipate that if and when we get to trial that we would need to bring in anywhere from probably eight to 10 people.”

The Final Exit Network and four of its members are accused of helping a Cumming man end his life in 2008.

Penn said there is not enough money in the witness account to cover the projected costs in this trial as well as those from other cases that require out-of-state witnesses.

She said she would know later this year whether the case will go to trial in 2012.

Also Monday, the committee heard from Forsyth County Solicitor General Leslie Abernathy, Chief Magistrate Walker Bramblett and Dawn Childress, administrator of the Bell-Forsyth Judicial Circuit Court.

Derrer said preliminary budgets with approved revisions will be e-mailed to department heads May 26.

Meetings the rest of this week will include proposed budgets for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, library, tax assessor’s office and voter registration.