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Residents share concerns about county budget
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Forsyth County News


Residents aired a few concerns about Forsyth County’s 2012 proposed budget during a Thursday public hearing.

Before the public comments, officials presented the numbers.

The $92.4 million general fund budget was “trimmed significantly” from original requests totaling about $95 million plus nearly $4 million in new requests, County Manager Doug Derrer said.

The 2012 proposal is more than a 4 percent increase from the 2011 budget of about $88.1 million, added finance director David Gruen.

The property tax rate remains the same, but Gruen noted that sales tax collections have increased from the previous year and are expected to stay up.

People commenting during the hearing pointed to offices or departments that had a significant increase in operating expenses.

“I’m just uncomfortable with the magnitude of these increases,” said resident Dan Wolf, noting the sheriff’s budget increase of 35 percent from last year.

Steve Voshall, founder of the Forsyth County Tea Party, said with the state of economy, he’d hope to see some decreases in expenses.

He’s seen increases in building parks and other amenities that concern him.

“Although we have the money to build them from the bond, we don’t have the cash flow to operate them,” Voshall said.

Parks and other amenities provide a great benefit to the county and can keep property values high, resident Dan Kalar said, but the budget overall doesn’t sit right with him.

“I don’t feel a spirit of less government interference in my personal life,” Kalar said. “I see an increase in enforcement. I see an increase in the sheriff’s [office] … I really wish I saw reductions.”

Former County Commissioner Jim Harrell recommended that the board hold a town hall meeting to allow a forum for more resident discussion on the 2012 budget.

Adoption for the budget is slated for Oct. 20.

The proposed budget includes 10 paid holidays for employees, which restores the four unpaid from 2011, as well as a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment and a continued 3 percent 401K match.

In this year’s process, staff separated operating expenditures, new requests, capital items and salary and benefit numbers.

New budget items included positions and park amenities, for an addition of about $486,000.