I live and own property in the North Hall area and was born and raised here. My family has lived and worked in Hall County several generations back.
I attended the commissioner's meeting. Apparently, funds were lost during last budget year to the tune of almost $19 million. Where did that money go? An independent agency needs to audit the books and figure out what is happening, before we allocate any more spending.
Times are hard and land values continue to decline. I owe more on my house than what I could sell it for and even with the new tax evaluation. After all the adjustments from the new assessments, how much more of a shortfall will next year bring? When the land revenue falls in the red from previous years, you need to find ways to counteract the fluctuation of money.
To accommodate the short fall of funds the county voted furloughs into policy three years ago; it was considered a short-term fix. The next year, you continued the furloughs and removed retirement benefits. Now you want to add more days.
In addition to being cut every way imaginable, there has been no cost-of-living raise for employees the last five years, while everything else is skyrocketing around them, including health insurance while the coverage declines.
When you are hired at an agreed-upon salary and your salary falls short, isn't that breach of contract? As an employee, when your bills came due and only paid a percentage of it, wouldn't you be sued? We are losing some good people and we will lose more.
Let's look at solutions. First, I would listen to employees. They might have suggestions that would help to tighten the budget. Second, charge a car fee at all parks, an alternate to closing the parks. Charge a book fee at the library. Compactor sites could charge a fee to drop off garbage. Don't furlough people and then bring someone else in and pay them time-and-a-half to cover their position. Collect any and all past due property taxes or sell the property. Close the extra tag offices.
Hall County receives money for inmate board-ins; I know it is a booming business. When you are in the red and are furloughing people because of hard times, you don't purchase buildings. Even if it was to alleviate paying rent, I never saw those rental funds put back in the budget for the next year. I only saw it decreased because of the upkeep and remodeling of that building.
The suggestions could go on and on listen gentlemen we are all in this together it's time to put up or shut up.