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Hall approves budget to fund employee raises, capital projects
Hall County Government Center

Hall County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to approve the county’s budget for the next fiscal year, which includes raises for county employees and investments in infrastructure.

The new general fund millage rate will be 5.36 mills, a decrease from the 2018 fiscal year’s rate of 6.7 mills and the rollback rate of 6.356 mills. One mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

The county expects to make 10.81 percent less revenue from property taxes in the upcoming year, due to the county’s service delivery strategy agreement with its municipalities that ensures taxpayers only pay for services they are actually receiving.

Some residents of incorporated Hall receive services from the cities they live in — Gainesville, for example, has its own parks system — and those residents will no longer be taxed by the county for services they are getting from their cities.

The millage rate is shifting from the incorporated rate to the unincorporated rate, resulting in potentially higher county taxes for property owners in unincorporated Hall and potentially lower county taxes for incorporated taxpayers, County Administrator Jock Connell said Thursday. However, there is no tax increase overall as defined by state law, he said.

The county’s total budget will be slightly more than $266 million, with $207.8 million budgeted for operating costs and $58.4 million allocated for capital funds.

County employees will receive 5 percent salary increases for a cost of $4.3 million for the 1,716 positions. They will also receive a 2 percent retirement match increase, will cost $1.5 million.

Resident Doug Aiken commented on the budget at Thursday’s meeting, saying he would have preferred employees to receive raises based on performance.

“Five percent across the board kills all the incentive,” he said.

Capital projects in the budget include road, building and sewer improvements, ambulance replacements, the reopening of Murrayville Park and renovations of the Gainesville branch of the Hall County Library System. The county also plans to make repairs to its older fire stations.

Hall County schools will receive the majority of each county tax dollar, or 64.77 percent. The county’s general fund will receive just under 19 percent of each tax dollar, while fire services will get 9.38 percent, emergency services will receive about 2 percent, development services will get 3.56 percent, and 1.29 percent of each tax dollar will go to parks and leisure services.

No one commented at a public hearing about the budget June 21.

The new fiscal year begins July 1.