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Hall County presents proposed 2014 budget

POSTED: May 16, 2013 10:04 p.m.

Hall County held a public budget open house Thursday evening, and one resident came.

County Administrator Randy Knighton said the county was not proposing a property tax increase for residents for fiscal year 2014. The county did increase the budget for its fire department, which could result in an increased millage rate for the Fire Fund. One mill equals $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

“While the health of the county as a whole has improved over the past few years, we still have some challenges we have to deal with,” Knighton said.

Hall County’s proposed budget is about $87 million. Financial Services Director Vickie Neikirk said the county revenue declines by more than $5 million, including whatever local option sales tax revenue will be, boarding prisoners from other counties and fees.

“We do not know where we’re going to be next year (on LOST),” Neikirk said.

LOST revenue is currently in court arbitration. The revenue is split between Hall County and its cities.

The fire department budget increase of nearly $1.6 million, along with special purpose local option sales tax revenue, would pay for two new fire trucks, a new fire station and a relocated fire station in Districts 3 and 4, and other personnel and equipment.

The fire stations are expected to be placed at the intersections of Shirley and Mount Vernon roads and Will Wallace and Ledan roads.

Budget requests from the general fund were about $94 million, which was more than $7 million above projected revenues. To close the shortfall, the county used several methods, including 4 percent required reductions in department budgets, limited new positions and programs, and applied proceeds from selling a jail to the city of Gainesville.

The county’s budget doesn’t include furlough days and keeps the county’s contribution to retirement plans.

“One of the main goals of this budget was to maintain our employees’ fiscal health,” Neikirk said.

Richard Mecum, Hall County Board of Commissioners chairman, said there is $150,000 in the budget for the Lake Lanier Olympic Center if the commissioners approve it.

“We haven’t voted it in,” Mecum said. “It’s not official yet.”

Formal budget hearings are scheduled for June, and the county will adopt the budget before June 30.


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