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Residents offer more objections to proposed county budget

POSTED: June 23, 2014 9:18 p.m.

As the Hall County Board of Commissioners prepare to vote on a 2015 fiscal year budget this week, residents got another chance Monday to voice their concerns and objections during a public hearing.

“Y’all told us, tighten your belts, cut back, you can make it,” resident Alicia Morris told commissioners. “I’m asking y’all, tighten your belts, cut back and you can make it. Do what you’ve asked us to do. Set the example.”

The latest proposal officials are considering includes two scenarios for arriving at a $90.6 million general fund budget.

The first keeps the property tax rate in place at 6.25 mills and uses $2.1 million in reserve funds to balance the budget.

A mill represents $1 for each $1,000 of the value of property, which is assessed at 40 percent in the county.

Keeping the property tax rate unchanged would generate about $1.5 million in additional revenue, but it also amounts to a tax increase.

The second option rolls back the tax rate to 5.989 mills, which would make the budget revenue neutral after a 6.58 percent increase in the tax digest this year due primarily to the reassessment on values of lakefront properties.

As a result, an additional $1.5 million in fund balance would be used to balance the budget.

County residents roundly opposed any tax increase at the first public hearing on the budget earlier this month, and that trend continued.

Resident Alice Schneider said she objected to proposed increases in spending for parks and a juvenile court judge.

Resident David Williams asked commissioners why they were considering a tax increase now when they cut services and positions just a few years back, during more difficult budget times.

“You don’t face anywhere near the severity that you faced then,” he said. “But you want to raise taxes now. That I don’t understand.”

There may be one more proposal up for consideration Thursday night when the commissioners cast their vote on the budget.

Commissioner Scott Gibbs told The Times he has asked finance officials to prepare a budget that rolls back the property tax rate to 5.989, uses about $3 million in reserve funds and includes a small percentage increase in salaries for county employees.

Gibbs said this budget would mirror the current year’s amended budget, which stands at about $89.9 million.


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