New 9-1-1 tax, fire tax hike in Fayette’s $88.6 million budget set for vote Thursday
Thursday night, the final public hearing is scheduled for the proposed $88.6 million budget for all of Fayette County government for fiscal year 2011-2012, including the water system and all other operations.
And although they are not voting on the millage rate, the budget sets up a new 911 tax to fund the county’s 911 center, which is currently funded through the general fund of each municipality and the county.
This new 911 tax would be created by a tax district, with a .2 millage rate that would cost $19 a year on a home valued at $250,000.
The proposed county budget also accounts for a proposed increase for fire property taxes that will affect only residents of unincorporated Fayette County, Tyrone, Brooks and Woolsey.
For a parcel valued at $250,000, the tax increase will translate into about $39.04 a year; that figure was calculated to include a projected dip in the county’s EMS tax rate.
The 911 tax would apply to all citizens in Fayette County because all are served by the county’s consolidated Emergency-911 center.
The fire tax does not affect residents in Peachtree City and Fayetteville, who do not pay county fire taxes since they have their own fire departments.
The fire tax has seen deep cuts in revenues over the past several years due to dips in property values, county officials have said.
Without the increase, the department would either have to completely deplete its unrestricted cash reserves to keep current staffing levels, or instead cut 15 positions, which could lead to the temporary closing of some fire stations, officials said.
The county currently has 32 firefighters working per shift.
The budget also includes a projected dip into “extra” cash reserves to the tune of $3.1 million. That will still leave some $5 million in that fund, which was built up through budget cuts over the past several years enacted by the commission, including a hiring and promotion freeze for all departments excluding public safety, as the sheriff’s, fire and EMS departments were allowed to hire replacements when staff vacancies occurred.
With property values down again this year, the county will absorb a $2 million loss of revenue compared to the current fiscal year.
The entire $88.6 million combined budget includes $46 million for the general fund, and $14.5 million for “special revenue funds” which includes EMS and fire services along with E-911 services among others.
The water system’s budget will be $14.4 million, which does not include an additional $9.1 million in the budget for upgrades at both water treatment plants needed to meet new federal clean water requirements.
The public hearing on the budget is slated to start shortly after 7 p.m. as the first item of business on the county commission’s regular agenda. The commission meets at the Stonewall government complex located across Ga. Highway 85 south from the American Legion cabin in downtown Fayetteville.
The commission had its first public hearing on the budget at its June 9 meeting, but no citizens addressed the commission.