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Hall County finishes budget hearings

POSTED: May 4, 2008 5:01 a.m.

The last round of Hall County budget hearings closed Tuesday, leaving officials with the task of slashing more than $9 million from 55 separate budget requests.

Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic presented his department’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2009, which asks for nearly 33 percent of the county’s expected budget for all departments and agencies in the upcoming year.

Cronic told county administrators and finance officials Tuesday that the sheriff’s patrol, detention center and investigations department need more than $32 million to maintain current services. He said service costs for the law enforcement division have increased 20 percent in the past year, and he needs about $3 million more this year.

"We understand it’s a tough financial time ... for that reason, we’re coming in flat for the most part," Cronic said.

The sheriff said he is not requesting funding for any new full-time personnel unless the legislature grants a third state court judgeship to Hall County, which would necessitate more officers to secure the additional courtroom. He said the department implemented the 287(g) illegal immigrant deportation program without hiring any new deputies.

Cronic argued that his office will generate an estimated $4,990,625 in revenue during the upcoming year by boarding inmates from other jurisdictions’ in the new county jail, which offsets the departments’ increased budget request.

Multiple county agencies also presented their proposed budgets to the budget panel Tuesday, as well as the district attorney, the juvenile court and the public defender’s office. Most of the departments and agencies maintained a nearly flat budget request, although the Georgia Mountains Community Services department requested an additional $50,000 to maintain and prepare property in Rabbittown slated for development.

County Administrator Jim Shuler said county officials aim to provide all departments with a budget that allows them to continue their same level of services, despite possible decreases in anticipated county revenues.

"We’re not working toward a budget that includes a tax increase," he added.

After three public budget hearings in June, county commissioners will adopt the fiscal year 2009 budget on June 26.

Sheriff’s operations, patrol and investigations

How it gets money: Hall County’s general fund, jail fees, boarding inmates from other jurisdictions. What it wants: The department is asking for $32,058,887 — $3,127,045 more than budgeted this year.

Why it’s needed: The sheriff said the department needs 25 new vehicles to replace cars in the patrol division. The vehicles being replaced have been driven more than 100,000 miles. The division is also requesting $574,080 for fuel, a 32 percent increase from this year’s fuel budget. Cronic added that the rising costs of prisoner meals and general utilities also factor into the proposed budget increase.



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