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Savings from 2011 aiding budget
County came in about $2M under
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Forsyth County News

Coming in under budget in 2011 has helped Forsyth County’s financial outlook for 2013.

The finance committee worked Monday to produce a balanced budget draft for 2013 using the same property tax rate as this year.

Preliminary numbers showed about a $2.2 million difference in recommended expenditures and projected revenue.

The committee recommended about $2.5 million that could be cut to close the gap, including purchasing some capital items with the money not spent in the 2011 budget.

Though the official 2011 audit has not been submitted, the preliminary numbers showed Forsyth County came in about $2 million under budget last year, said David Gruen, finance director.

About $1.3 million of that total came from the county not using its contingency funding in the 2011 budget, as well as departments coming in under budget, Gruen said.

Commissioner Patrick Bell suggested using those savings in part to buy the 20 replacement cars the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has requested.

“For four years, we’ve not been following the vehicle replacement policy,” Bell said.

He specified that a 2012 budget amendment for the $930,700 should specify the funding is for patrol vehicles.

Bell also suggested that the county’s 401k contribution be 4 percent, rather than returning to 5 percent.

Each year since 2010, the 401k match was reduced from 5 to 3 percent, intended to be a temporary cut.

Setting a 4 percent contribution cuts $685,000 from the preliminary gap.

Commissioner Brian Tam, who also serves on the committee, said the county should consider returning to the 5 percent match, since a benefit package can encourage employees to stay.

The committee also discussed the possibility of a cost-of-living adjustment or merit raises for employees in lieu of returning to the full 401k contribution, as the county did in 2012.

Gruen noted the budget has many moving parts until its scheduled adoption in October.

“The point is that we know that with the tax rate proposed, we can balance the budget,” he said.

Commissioners will adopt the millage rates, which have been proposed at the same level as in 2012, and hold a public hearing on the amounts in July.

The full commission was scheduled to discuss the 2013 budget on Tuesday afternoon.