Coweta revenues and budget up slightly

Coweta County citizens on Sept. 6 got a look at the budget for the new fiscal year that begins in October. The $59.8 million general fund budget carries a 1.2 percent increase over the current year and will use a small portion of the county’s unrestricted reserves to balance it.

The Coweta County Commission reviewed the general fund budget proposed at $59,845,850. That sum represents a 1.2 percent increase over the current $59.1 million budget, according to Coweta County Finance Director Hans Wilson, who added that the incorporated and unincorporated millage rates were reduced by rollbacks and that $1.7 million in reserves will be used to balance the budget. Wilson said he expects the budget to end the Sept. 30 fiscal year with a fund balance of approximately $1 million, with the fund balance growing to approximately $3.8 million by the end of FY 2013.

Even with the use of $1.7 million in reserve funds to balance the budget, Wilson said that leaves the county with approximately $28 million in additional unrestricted funds.

Despite the 2.1 percent decrease in the tax digest, commissioners in August kept the millage rate for the incorporated areas at 7.79 mills and decreased the rate in the unincorporated areas by .14 mills, from 6.8 down to 6.66 mills.

Addressing the revenue side of the budget, Wilson said changes in various revenue sources for FY 2013 include a projected 9 percent jump in the insurance premium tax, a 4 percent increase in sales taxes, an 11.3 percent increase in licenses and permits, along with anticipated revenues increases in budget areas such as cable TV franchise fees.

“The actual FY 2012 year-to-date sales tax revenue is up nearly 9 percent over the prior period. However, we don’t expect this trend to continue into FY 2013,” Wilson said. “It is anticipated that a new local option sales tax agreement (between the county and municipalities) will be in place by January which will also support the budgeted amount, as the county will receive a lower percentage than in the previous agreement.”

Referencing aspects of the expenditure side of the budget, Wilson said eight vacant positions were eliminated during the budget process resulting in $543,609 in cost savings.

During FY 2012, staff reorganized the building department in an effort to streamline operations and consolidate management. This included incorporating code enforcement into the department. This also included updated job descriptions and realignment of positions, Wilson said.

Also during FY 2012, the business license department was reorganized and incorporated into the finance department. The county is still evaluating other consolidations and reorganizations to improve functionality and efficiencies, said Wilson.

Wilson said the amount approved for capital purchases in FY 2013 totals $2,874,442. That sum includes several big-ticket items that would not ordinarily be included. The county will be constructing a morgue, as well as a glide slope landing system at the county airport. In addition, the county will be upgrading the existing financial accounting software system, improving the midway area at the fairgrounds and performing necessary repairs at the Powell Library, along with FY 2012 carryover projects. Other expenses include law enforcement vehicles, information technology replacement purchases and a new ambulance. There are several capital projects that require the county to match state funds, including projects at the airport and library, Wilson said.

Not currently included in the budget is a request from Georgia Technical College for $100,000 per year for the next 10 years.

Wilson also mentioned an upcoming proposal for 2013 that would pilot a propane gas project for vehicles. The recommended budget for the program is $75,000 for purchases of conversion kits and infrastructure. If successful, the program’s annual cost savings on fuel could be substantial, Wilson said.

The commission is expected to adopt the budget at the Sept. 18 meeting.

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