By Debi Holcomb, Fannin Sentinel Staff Writer
The Board of Commissioners met for a budget hearing Tuesday, Nov. 26 before the normally scheduled board meeting. All three commissioners were in attendance.
Chairman Stan Helton said, “Let’s go over some of the highlights. The grand total revenues that we are proposing, total budget is $28,564,665. For most of our discussion we will be talking about the general fund expenditures. It is really the heart of the budget. So those expenditures as proposed are $19,937,225.”
Helton highlighted the increases from the 2019 budget as, “We have a proposal here on the table for the Sheriff’s Department which includes the Detention Center which includes a 6 percent salary increase.” Later in the meeting Helton told Post II Commissioner Glenn Patterson the increase would be about $150,000.
An increase proposed for Risk Management which includes employee health insurance claims and county liability insurance is from $1,620,000 to $1,850,000.
Board of Elections has asked for a substantial increase for 2020 as there will be a Presidential Election which always requires additional staff. The increase if approved would be for $120,000.
“The other proposed change on here or recommendation would be to increase the fire services from $613,000 to $788,000 which would be the numbers that we would project to hire six full-time firefighters for the county,” said Helton
Helton then commended the Tax Assessors Office saying, “I’m gonna give them a shout out because a couple of years ago the proposed budget was close to $1.2 million. That was what was proposed. Now the budget they are operating on this year is $658,000 and you would have to throw maybe another $100,000 in there for health insurance to compare apples to apples. But I want to commend them.
I believe having five board members gives additional oversight of that department.” The department is currently 6 percent under budget year to date for 2019.
Also included in the proposed budget, Helton plans to move the Public Defender’s Office into the old fire station saving $25,000 a year in rent. Helton acknowledged renovations would need to be done but did not give any figures as to the cost of those renovations. He also said a part-time 911 dispatcher for peak times has been proposed. A 2 percent salary increase for all county employees was included in the proposed budget which Helton estimates to be a $200,000 increase.
Total proposed general fund budget is $19,937,000. Helton stated it was about a half-million less than the initial proposed budget presented to the Board. A shortfall of $678,616 would face the county if the new proposed budget was approved.
Immediately following the budget hearing, the BOC meeting was held and one of the agenda items was to vote on the proposed budget.
Post I Commissioner Earl Johnson said he did not have enough information to be able to approve the budget and Post II Commissioner Glenn Patterson agreed.
The vote has been postponed until the December 10 BOC meeting.