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Commissioners reject additional raises for tax employees
Hall officials want to 'stay in a good solid financial position'
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Other Board of Commissioners action taken:

Changed the annual due date to pay real and personal property tax bills from Dec. 1 to Nov. 15

Approved for the Public Defender’s Office a full-time indigent defense eligibility evaluator position accounted for in the current budget

Approved an amendment to sewers and sewage disposal fee schedule to conform with changes made by the City of Gainesville as dictated by an intergovernmental agreement

Approved release of $118,076 irrevocable Letter of Credit for sidewalks in Holly Meadows Subdivision

Approved a temporary part-time clerk in Juvenile Court

Hall County officials continued to keep a close watch on the bottom line as they dealt with department requests at Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday night.

Human Resources Director Bill Moats presented a request from Tax Commissioner Darla Eden:

“There are six employees in the tax commissioners office that were promoted within the last 12 months and received their promotion increase. “(Eden) is requesting to provide additional increase.”

Eden walked up to the podium in front of commissioners in case they had any questions for her. None did.

Commissioner Jeff Stowe made a motion to not approve. Commissioner Scott Gibbs seconded.

Every commissioner raised their hands to unanimously reject the request.

“I want everybody to understand these already are in the existing budget, and there’s no impact in this budget or future budgets,” Eden said. “It’s a retention effort.”

Commissioner Stowe said that if the retention effort is approved for the Tax Commissioner’s Office, others would be making similar requests.

“I don’t have to preach to you,” Stowe said. “It’s across the board, then I’m going to have the Sheriff’s Department over here that they need to retain. We understand.”

“Prior to Eden’s rejection, commissioners told Clerk of the Court Charles Baker that he could get a part-time position or full-time position, but not both as he requested.

Gibbs told Baker he was not being picked on.

“I don’t know what the answer is,” Gibbs said. “Last year we got hit by $1 million in legal fees, unfunded. We found it out six months into our budget. They’re doing it across the board to everybody and I don’t know what the answer is. Right now, as we sit today with the legislature in session — and you know the fun and games don’t get good until the last week — we know that they’re going to send home over $1.6 million unfunded again. We don’t know what they’re doing to our revenue again. They continue to to play with that number … they sit down there and smile. ‘We balanced our budget without a tax increase.’ Of course they didn’t, they let us figure out how to pay for it.”

Just this week the county announced that its three community centers — North Hall, East hall and Mulberry Creek — would be closing on Sundays beginning March 5. It’s part of a cost-saving measure implemented throughout every county department to trim $1 million from Hall’s total budget of $96.95 million.

Following last night’s meeting, County Administrator Randy Knighton said Hall’s finances are in good shape.

“Our fund balance is over $21 million, it was about $6.5 million in 2009,” he said. “What we want to do is make sure that we stay in a good solid financial position … As we see some trends happening, we want to make sure we’re proactive during the middle of the fiscal year to make the adjustments we need rather than wait at the end of the fiscal year.”

Gibbs told The Times that a small shortfall in revenue triggered the adjustments being made by the county.

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