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Hall County will comb through 2011 budget
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Hall County public budget hearings
When: 8:30 a.m. to noon April 12-14 and 20
Where: Courthouse Annex, 116 Springs St. SE, Gainesville

Hearing schedule
Monday: the court system, elections office, public safety department, building inspections, planning department, tax commissioner’s office, human resources, risk management were scheduled for budget hearings.
Today: magistrate court, public buildings, business license, the sheriff’s office and public works department are scheduled for budget hearings.
Wednesday: the district attorney, tax assessors office, public defender’s office, county agent, clerk of court, MIS and juvenile court are scheduled for budget hearings.
April 20: emergency management, fire services, correctional institute, parks and leisure, administration, purchasing, finance and general services/retirement are scheduled for budget hearings.

Hall County is hoping to prevent any increases in the fiscal year 2011 budget, and so far, so good.

On Monday, the county held its first of three public budget hearings this week. From 8:30 a.m. to noon, department heads and elected officials will present their budget requests for fiscal year 2011.

“The goal has been to try to maintain last year’s budget,” said County Administrator Charley Nix. “That was true this morning. All went smoothly.”

Nix said so far, everyone is expected to come in at or under budget.

“We don’t anticipate anyone asking for anything over budget,” Nix said.

The proposed budget is $90.3 million for fiscal 2011, which starts July 1. The approved 2010 budget was $92.7 million.

In fiscal 2010, Hall County continued money-saving efforts started in 2009, including monthly unpaid furlough days, a hiring freeze and a halt to all capital purchases.

The county also stopped contributing to employee retirement accounts and eliminated merit and cost-of-living salary increases.

Nix primed the commissioners on the 2011 budget at their board meeting April 8.

“I feel like they’ve cut as much as they can cut but I’ve, of course, asked them to go back and keep looking,” Nix said.
“The goal is to stay lean and mean.”

He said he hoped to get more participation from the elected officials on the front end of the budgeting process.

Nix said the county does face new challenges in 2011.

After two years without capital purchases, county equipment and vehicles are in need of replacement and repair and harsh winter conditions have left many roads in need of repairs.

But the budgeting process this year is a breeze compared to what county officials underwent for fiscal year 2010.

“Last year we had so much to try to get through I felt that I needed to have much longer section,” Nix said. “I literally had two- and three-hour sessions with each department head and elected official last year. We had to roll our sleeves up to get to that initial budget, we had so many cuts to get through.

“This year we pretty much feel like if we can adopt last year’s budget, we should be OK ... I feel like this year it’s a relatively simple budget as budgets go.”

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