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Budget breakdown: Details of Hall County's new funding in spending plan
Commissioners approve $93.6M spending plan for 2016, up from previous year
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The Hall County Board of Commissioners approved a $93.6 million general fund budget for the 2016 fiscal year with no tax increase on Thursday night.

That’s up from an adopted $90.2 million budget in the current fiscal year, and includes funding for 24 new full-time positions and $1.4 million for employee raises.

Public safety costs account for about 42 percent of spending, with property taxes accounting for about 41 percent of revenues.

Here’s a breakdown of major new spending in the budget:

Tax commissioner

A motor vehicle tag office in South Hall, shuttered as a result of budget cuts in 2011, will not be reopened in the next fiscal year despite a partnership plan presented by Tax Commissioner Darla Eden.

“I am truly disappointed for all our residents, but especially those in South Hall that are in close proximity to the proposed location,” Eden told The Times. “I presented a value-engineered proposal to have a physical presence within the Sheriff’s Office precinct for $30 per square foot that would serve our community for many years. I am hopeful that commissioners will readdress this issue later this year.”

Eden’s budget will increase about 7 percent, however, up to $1.5 million, and includes the addition of a new tax levy clerk to service 90,000 parcels, and funding to address state mandates and new legislation regarding advertising, legal, postage and printing for mailings.

Tax assessor

During budget negotiations, the Board of Commissioners had considered whether to hire additional personnel to handle property value reassessments or continue outsourcing much of the work. The county has spent more than $480,000 contracting out reassessment work in the last two years.

In the end, commissioners approved the hiring of one additional in-house staffer.

Human resources

An additional $35,000 has been budgeted for the Human Resources Department to launch a pilot education reimbursement program, which will provide monetary support for employees who are seeking higher education degrees.

While details about how the program will operate are somewhat scant at this time, Human Resources Director Bill Moats said the reimbursement will first be offered to select employees, such as 911 dispatchers and Hall County jailers, where employee turnover is high, who are furthering their education.

Moats said the program will be evaluated after one year and possibly expanded to include other employees in other county departments.

The “attractive benefit” will be tied to workers’ commitment to remain employed with the county for a certain length of time, Moats said, adding that officials believe having more educated employees serves both local government and the wider community.

Sheriff’s Office

Hall County is moving forward with reopening the courthouse annex in downtown Gainesville, renovating the building and hiring eight new security officers.

 “The Sheriff’s Office will be working closely with court administration and the commission monitoring the progress of the renovations and the timeline involved,” Couch said in a statement to The Times earlier this month. “It is too early to establish an opening date for the annex as renovations have not yet begun. Additionally, enough time must be allowed to hire and train deputies in preparation of the opening.”

About $235,000 has been budgeted for salaries and equipment to open the courthouse annex, according to county officials, and additional renovation costs could be paid for with special purpose local option sales tax revenues.

Libraries

The Hall County Library System will get an infusion of new cash, close to $100,000, in the next fiscal year.

The system’s budget fell to about $2.6 million this year from about $3.7 million in 2008, a 30 percent drop. Two branches were shuttered during that time.

Layoffs, a reduction in hours of operation and furlough days for workers were among additional cuts made.

The library system, however, will lose an estimated $83,000 in funding from the state in the 2016 fiscal year.

Maintenance

The Building Maintenance Department will receive about 15 percent in additional funding, up to more than $2.5 million.

“It is spread across various items, including the beautification of Hall County exits along Interstate 985, the salary and benefits of one landscaping employee who was transferred from another department during this past year and is now being annualized, additional equipment, fuel and maintenance expenses, along with other general inflationary increases,” said county spokeswoman Katie Crumley.

Public works

The most glaring single increase in the county’s budget is found in the fleet maintenance division of the Public Works Department, which will see a nearly 120 percent increase in funding to about $1.2 million from $551,000.

Most of that increase, however, comes as a result of changes in accounting, with vehicle maintenance costs for most county departments being transferred to the fleet maintenance budget.

Parks and Leisure

Hall County is readying the opening of Cherokee Bluffs, the newest local park, in South Hall later this summer.

And additional funding has been made available in the budget to hire two new parks maintenance workers.

Housing and development

Money has been budgeted for the Building Inspections Department to hire a new full-time inspector, a need related to an increase in development activity, according to county officials.

Georgia State Patrol

Hall County will pony up about $69,000 to the Georgia State Patrol to replace laser radar units that were purchased in 2006 and will be used to support local law enforcement efforts.

District attorney

Additional funding is being made for District Attorney Lee Darragh’s office to hire a Spanish-language victim witness advocate.

 

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