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.

30YearResident's picture
Joined: 03/21/2006

Why do we pay a 911 fee on our telephone bill...??
Then pay our taxes to cover the 911/EMS services...??
Then have to pay a fee whenever we need to use EMS services we're paying for with our taxes and fees... ??

We have a fine EMS service in our county, just wondering how many times are we being hit?

BHH's picture
Joined: 02/11/2011
I still have resevations about spending all this money on

911 communications when it already has a monthly revenue stream from all telephone service sold in the county. If that needs to be increased then fine but get off this millage rate increase.

The cost is more finite that the the fluctuating tax system provided by a property tax millage increase.

And it's basically just new toys for the girls & boys.

Also if we only have 32 firefighters on duty at any given time, during a natural or other disaster we will have too many people talking and not enough walking when it's time to do the work.

This kind of money could add a lot of personnel that is always in short supply during emergencies.

And here we go just like the other metro counties chasing after an unaffordable water system.

BHH's picture
Joined: 02/11/2011
Does this say "no citizens addressed the commission"

on June 9? Shame on you John Munford.

Wasn't that the last meeting when about 200 citizens were present to hear Steve Brown speak for them on this subject?

I think the citizens' opposition to the budget at the first public hearing was sufficiently represented.

They wanted the commission to hear and consider Brown's alternative proposals but the commission of the three "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" squelched and refused to hear it.

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
BHH: Meeting and Budget

There was a little more than 100 people at the meeting, not 200. About 80 of them walked out when Brown did.

Brown's proposals have to do with the SPLOST funds and even if there is a referendum approved for the voters to decide upon in November, the County is required by its own charter to already have a budget adopted well before then.

While the use of the SPLOST funds definitely may/may not have an impact on the 2011-2012 budget down the road, the budget has to be adopted months before any vote/referendum on SPLOST could even take place. Of course, there's no shortage of people in FC that have no idea about any of this because they pay no attention or can only focus on one issue at a time.

BHH's picture
Joined: 02/11/2011
Nuk, you are right.

Somewhere I read 200 but that makes little difference.

Many people don't get this newspaper and also are too busy with everyday life to even form an opinion of the county's issues. It's not that they don't care.

But the fact is that the commission should cater to the opinions of those who are in the know and actively speaking up, instead of pretending that the silent majority is in agreement with their actions when they are merely tolerant.

The squeaky wheels should get the grease or something always breaks.

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