2nd hearing Thurs. on Fayette budget; no new taxes expected

The $73.4 million budget proposed for Fayette County government next fiscal year will be up for a second public hearing at Thursday night’s meeting of the county commission.

County leaders want to avoid a property tax increase and instead will eat a $2 million revenue hit due largely to a decline in property tax values.

The total proposed budget is 1.4 percent less than the adopted budget for the current fiscal year.

The commission meets at 7 p.m. Thursday night at the Stonewall county government complex in downtown Fayetteville at the intersection of Ga. Highways 54 and 85. The commission meeting room is located directly behind the fountain.

Again this year the county will get by without any new staff positions or promotions. Last year the county eliminated 21.5 full-time equivalent full-time positions as a cost-saving measure, and it was noted at the time that county employees were bearing the burden of an increased workload to compensate for the lack of staffing.

In the proposed budget, another eight full-time equivalent positions have been eliminated through attrition, according to county staff.

Fayette’s property tax digest took a 7.9 percent tumble due in large part to the economy. Property taxes account for 61 percent of the county’s total revenues in the proposed budget.

Sales taxes, which comprise about 21 percent of the budget, have also dropped significantly, from $10.7 million in 2008 to an estimated $9.3 million this budget year, staff reported.

County staff is proposing to use $545,000 in cash reserves to balance the 2010-2011 budget.

Next year the county is expecting to take an even larger property tax hit as commercial properties stand to be devalued significantly, County Manager Jack Krakeel has told the commission.

Also on tap is a discussion of a host of changes to the county’s subdivision regulations, which outline parameters builders, developers and engineers must abide by when creating new subdivisions.