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County approves budget for 2022, 4% COLA increase
FCN Forsyth County Administration Building

Commissioners adopted a 2022 budget for $164.2 million in spending and revenue at a regular meeting on Thursday, Nov. 4.

The general fund is proposed to be balanced at $167,174,088 which is an 8.1% increase from last year’s general fund which was adopted at $151,830,780.

County Manager Kevin Tanner presented the budget to the board and explained that plan also calls for a 4% cost-of-living adjustment, COLA, increase and over 30 new full-time positions.

The 2022 budget assumes an unchanged millage rate, a net tax digest growth of 4.5% and forecasted real and personal property tax revenue increase of 3% with a 97% property tax collection rate.

It also includes an almost 12% increase to parks and recreation expenditures, factoring in the addition of four new full-time positions and a continuation of recreational projects, such as Phase 2 of Lanierland Park off Jot Em Down Road in north Forsyth County.

Animal services is receiving a 27.1% increase from $661,009 in 2021 to $840,133. The increase will allow for full-time positions for animal services and the animal shelter, along with a new vehicle.

Voter registration is receiving more than double the amount it received last year, increasing the budget by 118.1% from $1.2 million in 2021 to $2.3 million in 2022. Most of the budget will be spent towards part-time staffing, since 2022 is an election year.

The fire fund will also be increasing by 9.53% for $32.4 million to help fight fires and maintain facilities and equipment. Nine new positions for the fire fund were also accounted for.

The water and sewer fund will be increasing by 23.65% for $95.5 million which includes general operations, meter services and commercial services. Tanner noted that the increase for the water and sewer fund was due to the anticipation of future developments relinquishing their water and sewer lines to the control of the county.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office remains the county’s largest funded item with 35.1% of the budgeted general fund going towards public safety in 2022.

Other items of note include four new positions for the sheriff’s office, one new position for the Emergency Management Agency and one new position for Senior Services. 

Kirk Wintersteen, a Forsyth County resident, spoke in favor of the presented 2022 budget.

Wintersteen, who has lived in the county for the last 35 years, said that he has been attending Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meetings and work sessions “for over 10 years.”

“I believe the county commissioners are being careful with the money,” Wintersteen said. “I have seen good decisions made [and] haven’t seen a bunch of waste or anything. Sometimes, people have disagreements, but we run a pretty tight ship here.”

Wintersteen said that he liked that most of the general fund was allocated for public safety because “our sheriff is doing a great job, and he’s being proactive.”  

With no other comments from the public, commissioners unanimously approved the presented 2022 budget with an additional approval to apply a 4% COLA increase as budgeted.