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Numbers crunching begins
Finance committee meets with officials
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Forsyth County News

 

Forsyth County’s finance committee is huddling with elected officials this week to discuss their budgets for the coming year.

The committee is asking the officials and department heads, with whom it met last week, to trim their proposed budgets wherever possible to close a budget gap that could reach $10 million.

Revenue is estimated at $90 million, yet general fund requests total $95 million to $96 million. Additional requests for new items could raise that difference by about $4 million.

County Manager Doug Derrer, who is also on the finance committee, said the proposed budgets for next year include restoring four paid holidays for employees, which would bring the total to 10 days. Also included is increasing the 401K allotment to 5 percent.

“We don’t know if those will survive, but because they’re sunset they’re included in the budget,” Derrer said.

“Those are items that will be on the table for discussion at a later date when we talk with the finance committee and the board (of commissioners).”

Derrer said cost of living and merit increases will be discussed as well, though they are not included in the proposed budget.

The meetings are among the first steps in the lengthy budget process, which will extend into the fall.


Sheriff’s Office

The sheriff’s office is asking to add about $2.7 million to a budget of about $38.7 million for 2012.

As it stands, the proposed 2012 budget is already an increase of about 7.24 percent from the revised 2011 budget, which is currently set at about $36 million.

The requested new items include an additional administrative specialist to handle personnel issues.

Sheriff Ted Paxton explained Monday that the agency, which has grown from 188 to 400 employees over the years, has just one person for such matters.

The additional position would add $51,800 to the budget.

Also sought is about $2.2 million to fill 24 deputy sheriff II positions. The addition would increase the sworn officer per 1,000 residents ratio from 1.69 to 1.83.

Paxton said the agency has applied for a grant that could pay for 15 of the positions.

The agency has also requested a modular building for administrative personnel for the detention center.

That could increase its budget by $35,500. Furniture and work stations for the modular building are estimated to cost about $2.3 million.

Reclassifying victim advocate positions from part time to full time could result in a savings of $35,400, a preliminary report shows.

The positions are reimbursed by a grant for part of the expense.

Also on the list of new budget items for the sheriff’s office is a request for $3,800 for rifles for the agency’s Bearcat vehicle and $39,000 for locking gun racks, which would allow personnel to have immediate access to patrol rifles.


District Attorney’s Office

District Attorney Penny Penn told the committee Monday that she would like to hire an additional attorney to help with her office's growing caseload.

There are four pending death penalty cases for which Penn’s office will be responsible for prosecuting, as well as 10 murder cases.

The first death penalty case is scheduled to begin in July.

The office is also handling an assisted suicide case with four defendants and is responsible for Forsyth County Drug Court.

The new position would add about $77,000 to Penn’s proposed $767,400 budget for 2012. Her revised  2011 budget is $756,200.


Magistrate and Probate Courts

Magistrate Court’s proposed budget for 2012 shows a possible increase of about 7.7 percent from the 2011 revised amount, rising from $875,900 to $943,700.

Though the exact cost is unknown, Chief Magistrate Walker Bramblett has asked that a fence be built to provide privacy where court officials park.

The Probate Court budget for 2011 was $713,200. Next year’s proposed numbers show that budget increasing by 9.18 percent, to $778,700.

Probate Judge Lyndon D. “Woody” Jordan explained that an administrative specialist position was changed this year from part time to full time.

The change will result in an additional expenditure next year of $32,400.