Hall County presented its fiscal year 2021-2022 budget Thursday, June 10, featuring a reduced millage rate and more money than last year, helped in part by federal stimulus.
Next year’s proposed budget is 20.1% greater than last year’s at $344.46 million, and $10.5 million of the nearly $60 million increase is from federal funding as part of the American Rescue Plan.
Other increased revenue comes from a new state sales tax, said Dena Bosten, Hall County’s financial director who presented the budget to the Hall County commissioners Thursday.
“In April 2020, a new state law became effective that required sales tax collection on online sales,” Bosten said. “As a result of that tax base increase, we have also experienced an increase in sales tax revenue.”
The proposed general fund millage rate is 4.636 mills, or $4.636 per $1,000 in property value, which is rolled back from last year’s general fund rate of 4.853 mills. The millage rate for unincorporated property will total 9.226 mills, which includes millage rates for the emergency services fund, development services fund, and the parks and leisure services fund. This rate does not include the Hall County Schools millage rate. The general fund millage rate has decreased each year since 2017, when it was 6.7 mills.
“This is a full rollback rate as computed by the state formula,” Bosten said. “Therefore the proposed millage rate does not result in a property tax increase by state law.”
About 17.3% of those dollars will go to the county’s general fund, 9.9% to fire services, 3.8% toward development services, 2.1% toward emergency services, and 1.5% for parks and leisure, and those rates are similar to last year’s budget. Based on the schools’ 2020 millage rate, an estimated 65.5% would go to Hall County Schools, according to the tax briefing.
“During last year’s process, we were prepared for the worst, but thankfully we did not experience as great a decline as we expected during the pandemic,” Bosten said.
About $4.5 million of the budget increase will go to a 5% cost-of-living adjustment for county employees to aid employee retention and recruitment, Bosten said. And the county will add 26 new employee positions next year at a cost of about $1.7 million, Bosten said.
The budget also includes $101.3 million for capital expenditures throughout all funds, Bosten said. This includes $9.5 million of the American Rescue Plan funds. The county also expects $5 million in grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank.
Capital projects include ambulance and other vehicle replacement, HVAC replacement, relocation of fire station No. 1, Butler Park construction, other park renovations and technology and software improvements, Bosten said.
Property tax revenue is expected to increase by 5.5% over the current fiscal year, even with the full rollback millage of 4.636, Bosten said.
The commission is expected to adopt the budget at their next meeting on June 24.