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Barrow unveils FY15 budget with no property tax increase

POSTED: August 13, 2014 1:00 p.m.

Barrow County Commissioners were presented a proposed 2015 budget Tuesday that does not include a property tax increase.

Commissioners are aiming to vote on the 2015 fiscal year budget Sept. 23 that will go into effect Oct. 1. The budget includes a $36 million general fund budget, which is a 4.2 percent increase from 2014.

The $66 million budget includes areas such as $8.7 million in special revenue expenditures and around $19 million in capital projects.

A "budget climate" section notes that the county's unemployment rate has dropped from an all-time high of 10.8 percent in January 2010 to 5.9 percent in April of this year.

Highlights of the budget include no change in the property tax rate and no new employee positions.

"The county's total tax digest has been declining for several years but is beginning to stabilize and not decrease further," County Manager Randall Dowling and Chief Financial Officer Rose Kisaalita wrote in a letter to commissioners. "The county's various revenues have also been declining in recent years but are beginning to stabilize."

Commissioners will discuss the budget at the Aug. 26 workshop while a public hearing for the budget will be held Sept. 9.

There could be a major shakeup in the budget once county leaders decide if any more privatization will take place.

Any changes would be voted on by officials later this year and would go into effect in January.

There are also no salary increases in the proposed budget, but that could change later this year, Dowling said.

"If the 2014 audit does show a surplus then will use a majority of that for (salary) increases," he told commissioners Tuesday.

The budgets for Barrow County Sheriff's Office and detention center, which has been of contention between Sheriff Jud Smith and some commissioners, includes more money in areas such as fuel and fleet repairs. Smith said following Tuesday’s meeting that he was pleased with what the proposed budget has for his department.

Under emergency services there are proposed increases in overtime and part-time expenses primarily due to high turnover.

Also, the county's public safety radio project that has been hampered by problems with service could cost another $645,000 as officials look to iron out the issues.

Dowling's reductions also include not approving six full-time firefighter/EMT positions, nor promoting three lieutenants to captains that would've cost $530,000.



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