There was palpable tension between the public and the Hall County government at a public hearing for the 2008 budget at the county commission meeting Thursday.
Longtime Hall County resident Louie Butterworth brought papers before the commission documenting that taxes are to be collected twice a year.
"Didn’t you know it was on the books?" he asked the commission. "You ain’t upholding your oath. You said you’d uphold the laws that’s in effect. This has been in effect since 1975." He said. "This is pitiful. Nobody abides by the law. ...This is the roughest Hall County government that I have lived through in my lifetime, and I’m 75 years old."
Commissioner Steve Gailey said he would make it an agenda item at the next meeting.
Chris Masters, a candidate for the District 2 commission seat, said he found it "a little disconcerting" that revenues and expenditures for the 2008 budget match up exactly, leaving no room for the unexpected.
Doug Aiken of the Taxpayer Association addressed the commission with ideas such as opening campgrounds on Lake Lanier and selling the old jail to increase revenues.He brought up statistics from the most recent audit findings that show during last year Hall County’s population grew 4 percent, revenues grew 6 percent and expenditures increased 9 percent.
"We have a storm on the horizon," Aiken said. "If we don’t do anything, shame on us."
Gailey said he was not content with the budget because with no room for capital expenditures, it is too tight.
"I got a real problem with this budget," Gailey said. "I got a real problem with these estimated revenues. I feel like in three months we’re going to be cutting again."
Commissioner Bobby Banks urged department heads to be frugal with their spending.
"Just because it’s in your budget, you don’t have to spend it," Banks said.
Thursday’s commission meeting was also the first without County Administrator Jim Shuler, whose official last day is June 30. Interim County Administrator Charley Nix was present at the meeting.
"I would like to welcome Charlie Nix as our interim county administrator. With this new leadership I look forward to his open and honest qualities and respect of authority that Hall County government as well as the county employees, citizens and taxpayers deserve from our administrator," Banks said.