Fayette County manager: Raise taxes to cover coming budget crunch

Property tax revenues for Fayette County government are expected to take another dip again this year, putting further pressure on the county budget.

Based on preliminary information from the tax assessor’s office, the hit could further reduce the county’s tax digest between 6 and 10 percent, the Fayette County Commission was told at its retreat Friday morning.

The county is budgeting for an 8 percent dip, which would mean $2.2 million less in the county’s general fund, along with a $381,000 hit to the fire fund and a $141,000 hit to the EMS fund.

To cover the loss, county finance staff is recommending that the commission consider using reserves to fund this year’s budget, along with a potential property tax increase on top of significant cuts to the county’s capital improvement plan.

Without a millage rate increase, “I think you’re just prolonging the inevitable coming down the road and eroding your fiscal capability to manage that,” said County Manager Jack Krakeel.

Property taxes account for almost two-thirds of the county’s annual revenue stream, so any dip in them means a significant decrease in funding.

While the county has $7.4 million available in unrestricted cash reserves which have been stockpiled for the economic downturn, the county is facing some significant expenses in the coming year that threaten to eat up at least a healthy chunk of that figure, according to County Finance Director Mary Holland.

“We can erase that $7 million in one year easily,” County Manager Jack Krakeel told the commission. He also noted that the county staff and also its constitutional officers have done very well in making cuts over the past several years, among which have been a hiring freeze for all non-public safety staff.

Cuts to the county’s public improvement plan will likely focus on recreation projects, including money planned for the second and third phases of Kenwood Park.

One of the large fiscal concerns facing the county this year is that the vehicle replacement program has been very restricted in the past several years, and staff worries it will not be able to delay significant expenditures much longer.

Getting back on track with vehicle replacements will cost the county about $10 million over the next five years, Holland said. That figure includes a large number of vehicles for the sheriff’s department, along with several pumpers, tankers and a squad truck for the fire department, she added.

Commissioner Allen McCarty said he has noted that some of the county’s vehicles are looking “ragged” and he realizes the replacement program is important.

Another significant concern is the potential cost of a needed technology upgrade for the county to improve cyber security, and also the potential cost of repairs to the “old” section of the Fayette County Jail so it can be used in the future.

The net result is that the county will not have any additional staff positions created this year, because the county just can’t afford it, Krakeel said.

As further cost-savings measures, the county is looking into changes to its insurance program including an exploration of the possibility of having a medical clinic on county property that could be utilized by county employees and their families, Krakeel said. That clinic could be staffed by a physician’s assistant under the supervision of a physician, and be made available at no cost to the employee, Krakeel said.

The county would save money using that concept, as it wouldn’t be paying for employees to be seen at other area medical facilities, he added.

The county is also looking at potential changes to help save money on healthcare provided to inmates at the Fayette County Jail, Krakeel said. Holland previously had noted that jail housing costs have skyrocketed, and Krakeel noted that the jail’s population has increased substantially in the past year or so.

Commissioner Steve Brown recommended adding a 10-percent across the board “cut” to departmental budgets, with the idea that if spending above that level were necessary the department director could come back to the commission and request authorization for it.

normal
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How about you cancel the 2 new fire stations

I was told today from a firefighter that the county is building 2 new stations. Well just Damn as Royal Marshal used to say. Cancel the buildings until the money is there. You can get by just fine. Its getting a bit irritating government workers milking the tax payers for everything. Start cutting, we are broke. The worst is yet to come. The states are getting ready to go bankrupt. Just watch.

roundabout
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normal

I detect that you aren't old enough to remember Adolph Hitler having all Germans bunker in when things got bad and all was lost---thereby getting hundreds of thousands more killed!

Well that is somewhat comparable to building fire stations and expanding others right now.

We even hired a person to get some jobs into PTC or at least some tax payers---right in the middle of a deep recession!

**That is comparable to Herbert Hoover wanting to open more banks in 1932!

Or for Wall Street enlarging the margin borrowing rate from 90% to unlimited in 1929!

Those things didn't happen, but some wanted it.**

Woody
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Fulton, Fayette - Not going to be much difference.

I'd just as soon shut down just about everything other than public safety to keep taxes from rising. The education millage, which is separate, better not go up either. When citizens are struggling to make do with lost jobs and lower incomes, the County can adjust rather than making things worse for them.

normal
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Dont treat the jail birds.

The county is also looking at potential changes to help save money on healthcare provided to inmates at the Fayette County Jail, Krakeel said. Holland previously had noted that jail housing costs have skyrocketed, and Krakeel noted that the jail’s population has increased substantially in the past year or so

The folks in jail milk us as bad as the illegal mexicans running around here. Let them out of jail and we dont have to pay their insurance. And ask for proof of citizenship before you treat a suspected illegals. Lifes a bitch, if they dont like it they can leave.

Woody
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Inmate Healthcare Solution?

Load 'em up on a bus and drop them off at Grady Hospital.

ptctaxpayer
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Tax hike from a career bureaucrat

Tax hike from a career bureaucrat-----now that's a surprise Jack !!!

wheeljc
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RAISING TAXES IS NOT THE SOLUTION!

We have seen a reduction in the public school population in recent years, and what we DO NOT NEED TO BE CONSIDERING is a tax increase to 'ward off' couples with young children. Further, think that you will find the median household income within the County has changed in recent years. It would appear prudent for the County to act as an 'attractor', vice a 'tax gobbler'. Just how many seniors do you think you would lose from the tax base if we start down the road of disaster to HIGHER PROPERTY TAXES??

Commissioner Brown seems to be on the right track, but Fayette County, like the rest of the Country, is going to have to get accustomed to a NEW NORMAL.

There may have to be some permanent layoffs, and if so, then so be it. Affluence is relative. The building boom is over, and those in Fayette County government need to understand that.

Regarding county vehicles getting old -- why do we need so many? A lot of Fayette County families have reduced the number of vehicles in their driveways as a result of the NEW NORMAL. Why can't Fayette County government set an example of prudence, thrift, and ....the NEW REALITY??

roundabout
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10% budget cut "across the board?"

We can't cut elected officers as I understand it.

We only have one city manager, do we not (maybe his salary cut 10%--does he have a contract?)

10% of the cops and firemen, half below median wage---half above median wage---would be easy to calculate. Keep 90% of the EMYs. Cut Chiefs' salaries' 10%.

Cut all of the chemicals used to make our drinking water 10%.

Cut all benefits for employees 10%. Just cover 90%.

This BS. Why not do a ZERO budget study?

Georgia Patriot
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Don't Raise Taxes!!!

If you do we will vote you out! If you are appointed we will vote in ones to fire you! -GP

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