0415COUNTYAUDHear Michaela Thompson, Hall County finance director, explain the outlook for fiscal year 2009.
BY JESSICA JORDAN
Hall County finance officials began reviewing department heads’ budget requests for the upcoming year on Monday.
The county is calling for a flat budget of $94.6 million for fiscal year 2009 in an effort to maintain property tax rates. Projections of little or no revenue growth in the upcoming year are hindering rising operational costs for each department. As residential building slows in the county, so does tax revenue.
Recent fluctuations in retail sales also have left the county unsure of how consumer spending habits will change in the upcoming year, which affects sales tax revenues.
Here’s a look at what the first round of departments asked for and why:
How it gets money: Millage rate collections
What it wants: The fire department asked for $15,502,944 for fiscal year 2009 — $1,029,249 more than it received for this year’s budget.
Why it’s needed: The department wants to hire 30 new firefighters, three new battalion chiefs and three new battalion captains to man fire station No. 16 that will be opening in South Hall within the next 18 months. The department also requested funding to update its fleet with a $450,000 fire pumper truck and a $250,000 fire rescue truck to enhance ambulance services.
How it gets money: Hall County’s general fund and some funds from rental fees
What it wants: The department asked for $1,872,861 — $101,483 more than it received for this year’s budget.
Why it’s needed: Main Street Gainesville asked for $22,710 worth of additional lighting for the downtown square, which falls under county maintenance.
How it gets money: User fees on each telephone line and supplement by Hall County’s general fund
What it wants: The division asked for $4,655,899 — $819,339 more than it received for this year’s budget.
Why it’s needed: The department wants $384,000 for a new warranty for its electronic dispatch system. Also, the department wants to hire two new dispatch employees to handle the more than 1,200 nonemergency phone calls from sheriff’s deputies, fire services and state patrol requesting dispatchers to run background checks and tag numbers. Two new employees would allow current employees to be more responsive to emergency calls.
Emergency Medical Services and Emergency Management Agency
How it gets money: E.M.S. collects fees from insurance companies and individuals and also receives money from Hall County’s general fund. E.M.A. operates solely from Hall County’s general fund.
What it wants: E.M.S. asked for $8,749,084 — $769,681 more than it received for this year’s budget. E.M.A. requested $180,591 — $70,493 less than it received for this year’s budget.
Why it’s needed: E.M.S. wants two new ambulances that total $500,000 to replace outdated ambulance vehicles. E.M.A. wants three new severe weather sirens to augment the eight existing ones at fire stations throughout the county.
How it gets money: Building permit fees and supplemented by the general fund, if necessary
What it wants: The division asked for $1,194,456 — $67,451 more than it received for this year’s budget.
Why it’s needed: The department may receive less revenue in the 2009 fiscal year due to fewer residential building permit applicants.