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Fuel, health insurance costs plague Hall County budget

POSTED: April 27, 2008 5:01 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Deanne Murphy puts up books in the new Spout Springs Library Tuesday. The Hall County Library System is asking for more money this year for additional staff to operate the new library when it opens in May.

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Hall County budget reviews consistently revealed one problem Tuesday — rising fuel and health insurance costs are forcing county departments to cut costs elsewhere, which may result in smaller raises for employees in the upcoming year.

In compliance with County Administrator Jim Shuler’s request for a flat budget, round two of annual budgeting hearings showed that the majority of departments are sticking to budgets similar to last year.

Hall County Library System is one of the few exceptions to the conservative trend in county budget requests — the agency is asking for about 35 percent more funding for fiscal year 2009 than in 2008.

But they have a sparkling new Spout Springs branch to operate, and want 50 more computers in the facility and hundreds of books to fill the shelves that will serve approximately one-third of the county’s population. Nearly one-fourth of the library system’s proposed materials budget will support the sixth county library, which is slated to open in May.

Hall County Library System

How it gets money: Hall County’s general fund, impact fees from commercial and residential growth.

What it wants: The agency asked for $3,018,206 — $796,652 more than it received for this year’s budget.

Why it’s needed: More staff is required to operate the new Spout Springs library. The library system also wants to purchase $652,630 worth of materials to the six county libraries.

 

Risk Management

How it gets money: A portion of all departments’ budgets is funneled into risk management funds.

What it wants: The department asked for $2,230,725 — $200,239 more than it received for this year’s budget.

Why it’s needed: Department officials said workers’ compensation claims have steadily risen over the past few years, and typically have not been incorporated into the fiscal year budget. Two costly cases in the past year required additional funding upon request. The department is asking for $973,210 for workers’ compensation claims to prepare for similar situations in the upcoming year.

 

Engineering

How it gets money: Hall County’s general fund.

What it wants: The division is requesting $1,975,604 — $122,215 more than it received for this year’s budget.

Why it’s needed: The department needs to fund rising fuel costs for engineers’ vehicles. Also, the department must pay for four new traffic signals: two near Stonebridge Village Shopping Center, one on Sardis Road and one on McEver Road.

 

Fleet and Road Maintenance

How it gets money: Hall County’s general fund.

What it wants: Fleet Maintenance wants $882,723 — $30,065 more than it received for this year’s budget. Road Maintenance is asking for $4,412,339 — $521,160 more than allocated for this year.

Why it’s needed: Fleet Maintenance wants new uniforms, particularly rain gear. Rising fuel costs generally account for the remainder of the requested budget increase. Road Maintenance is asking for about $450,000 to replace outdated heavy equipment and about $270,000 for fuel costs.

 

Solid Waste

How it gets money: Landfill fees.

What it wants: The department is asking for $2,541,806 — $355,380 more than it received for this year’s budget.

Why it’s needed: Two new buildings are needed to replace small compactor site attendant buildings. The department also requested funds to purchase two new solid waste containers and one new dump truck.

 

Resource Recovery

How it gets money: Landfill fees, recycling revenue.

What it wants: The division is asking for $720,310 — which is actually $103,094 less than it received for this year’s budget.

Why it’s down: The department cut a $120,000 compactor study from its budget request.



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