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Gainesville Administrative Services getting leaner in 2015
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Government agencies are presenting their proposals for the fiscal year 2015 budget that begins July 1.

Gainesville: Administrative Services department

FY 2015 request: $2.2 million

FY 2014 budget: $2.8 million*

What’s new: Financial services division aims to publish a layman’s budget report for the public and increase its educational efforts regarding the tax billing process.

*Includes Human Resources, which will be split off as an independent agency in FY2015.

The Gainesville Administrative Services Department will get a little leaner in the 2015 fiscal year as the human resources division splits off into its own department.

Administrative Services will soon entail only a financial services division, IT division and municipal court division, which oversees ticket processing, court procedures and revenue collection.

While city managers are still working through the 2015 budget, it is anticipated Administrative Services will see its funding decrease by the approximate value that covered human resources costs.

In the current fiscal year, the human resources budget totaled about $587,000 out of a total $2.8 million budget for the Administrative Services Department. And because City Manager Kip Padgett has asked all departments to keep their budget requests flat for the coming fiscal year, Administrative Services Director Melody Marlowe said she expects her budget to fall to about $2.2 million.

Despite the drop, Marlowe said she expects the department to be as busy as ever in the 2015 fiscal year, piggybacking on some of the goals it established this year. It has built some reserves to help meet its priorities.

The financial services division also benefits from a recent upgrade issued by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, one of the leading credit-rating agencies in the country.

S&P raised the long-term rating on general obligation bonds issued by the Gainesville-Hall County Development Authority and the Hospital Authority of Hall County and city of Gainesville to AA- from A+.

In the 2015 fiscal year, Administrative Services is prepared to issue a “Popular Annual Financial Report,” a kind of layman’s budget document meant to be easily digested by the public. Moreover, department officials hope to clarify the tax process for residents, as well as convey how tax dollars are spent, by incorporating information in residents’ property tax bills.

The department plans on undertaking a number of initiatives to streamline revenue collections, including implementing new software applications to more efficiently manage property tax bills and business licensing fees. Additionally, Administrative Services will work with the police department to increase the number of eTickets processed by the municipal court.

Finally, the department plans to work closely with the Hall County Tax Assessor’s Office to certify the tax-exempt status of certain businesses, nonprofits and other agencies to ensure they meet the requirements for such designation under Georgia law. It is hoped that doing so will eliminate those entities that are misusing the tax break. According to Marlowe, 22 percent of the city tax digest is exempt.

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