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Hall moves ahead on new budget
No tax increases planned; furlough remain
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Public hearing
What: Discussion of fiscal 2011 budget
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville

Hall County residents may be happy with the county’s proposed budget for the 2011 fiscal year, but county staff may not share the same sentiment.

During the Hall County Board of Commissioners work session Monday, officials shared the budget’s highlights during a public hearing.

With a $90.4 million general fund budget, county officials are proposing the millage and tax rates remain the same. However, in order to help balance the budget, county administrator Charley Nix proposed that monthly furlough days extend through June 30, 2011.

The county implemented the furlough days for all employees in October 2008, but some commissioners said they would like to see the furlough schedule adjusted.

"During the week of Thanksgiving, the county is closed three days. For the county to be closed three (out of five) days, that seems extreme," commissioner Bobby Banks said. "Is there a way to rearrange the furlough days?"

With the furlough days representing an estimated 5 percent salary reduction for employees, Nix said giving employees more time off near the holidays has made the cuts a bit more palatable.

Commissioner Steve Gailey said he’d like to see staff members be able to take their furlough days when they want to — after clearing it with a supervisor — instead of having a countywide schedule.

Commissioner Ashley Bell requested staff generate a report by the commission’s meeting on Thursday to show how the furlough days have impacted the response times of public safety units.

No action was taken during Monday’s meeting, but the group is expected to approve the budget after a second public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday during the commission’s regular meeting at the Georgia Mountains Center.

During Monday’s meeting, chairman Tom Oliver also requested staff be prepared to give the commission a status update on Cedar Creek Reservoir, which has been a source of debate between the county and Gainesville.

While the city owns the reservoir, county tax revenue was used to construct it and the county still holds the permit to withdraw the water. The county contends it needs to be able to sell the water from the reservoir to other governments to help fund construction at the planned Glades Reservoir; the city wants to move ahead with a treatment facility at Cedar Creek.

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