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BOC to look at making budget cuts in order to increase salaries

POSTED: September 3, 2014 1:00 p.m.

Barrow County commissioners are asking the county manager to look at an additional $500,000 in cuts to the 2015 budget that could help fund employee raises.

Barrow officials spent two hours Tuesday discussing the 2015 fiscal year proposed budget, but held off on if there will be any changes to the property tax rate. Commissioners will resume talks Sept. 9 as they gear up for a vote on the budget by the end of the month.

Commissioners bounced around ideas of rolling back the millage rate since property tax revenue is expected to change because of increased property values. Commissioner Billy Parks said he favored rolling the millage rate back to offset the revenue increase that’s projected to bring in an additional $800,000.

Parks suggestion of a five percent raise for employees was also supported by Commissioner Ben Hendrix.

"I think the five percent is something we can do and is something that’s sustainable," Hendrix said.

County officials remained divided over if money from reserves should be used to increase pay for employees.

County officials remained divided over if money from reserves should be used to increase pay for employees.

County Manager Randall Dowling said he doesn’t have a "crystal ball" but that various tax revenues and building permits are trending upwards, which may be able to sustain additional raises. For instance, this year the county should receive $1 million more in Local Option Sales Tax revenue than what was projected.

"There’s no reason barring any craziness that it couldn’t be sustainable," Dowling said.

Several commissioners also questioned why the departments under the Board of Commissioners were up $1.1 million in the proposed budget. They said that they would like to see the cuts come from that area; however Chief Financial Officer Rose Kisaalita said it’ll be tough to cut a drastic amount of money.

"We’ll look at the numbers again but it’s going to be very difficult," she said.

Some of the reasons for the additional costs come from maintaining the renovated historical courthouse as well as more than $50,000 to replenish salt for the Roads & Bridges Department, Dowling said.

Making the cuts could lead to more budget amendments later in the year as departments need more money, he added.

Commissioner Kenny Shook countered that outside of a rare occurrence, department heads haven’t typically requested more money than what they’ve been budgeted the last couple years.

Commissioners will broach the topic of the millage rate and budget at the Sept. 9 meeting. The new budget year begins Oct. 1.

 

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