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County to explore budget shortfall options
by Mary Cosgrove
mcosgrove@neighbornewspapers.com
September 12, 2012 02:03 PM | 2544 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With a 3 percent decline anticipated in Fulton County’s tax digest for fiscal year 2013, and commissioners having voted against a millage rate increase, county officials are expecting to see a $77 million deficit between revenue and expenditures.

During the meeting, Fulton County Finance Director Patrick O’Connor said current revenue projections for the 2013 general fund budget are expected to decline from $540 million to $511 million.

Anticipated expenditures for 2013 are $588 million, compared to 2012’s $585 million.

For 2012, county officials will already be required to pull down from the fund balance to cover the difference between revenues and expenditures.

With an anticipated $540 million of revenue, the county still needs to meet its $585 million balance for expenditures.

O’Connor said roughly $44 million will need to be drawn from the fund balance.

While the county is anticipating a 95 percent collection rate on property taxes for the 2013 fiscal year, the number will still be smaller due to declining property values and a millage rate that is not increasing.

A few months back, commissioners decided against raising the current 10.281 to 10.791 mills.

While O’Connor estimated a 95 percent collection rate on property taxes, declining property values have left the county in a deficit.

Commissioner Liz Hausmann asked what the county regularly collects on property taxes from year to year, and County Manager Zachary Williams said traditionally it has been 98 percent. That difference in 3 percent would be a $10 million increase in revenue.

Commissioner Robb Pitts asked whether there might be some surprise collections in the upcoming year, eluding to that happening in the past.

“There is not going to be any miracle here,” O’Connor said.

Pitts thanked him for his honesty.

“I hope the six of us here now heard what you said,” he said. “There is no more money and there is no white horse riding in.”

Chairman John Eaves requested to both the finance director and city manager that the commission be given recommendations on how to make up the shortfall.

Williams said during the next month, staff will be speaking individually with commissioners on the upcoming budget, and one of the suggestions is $8 million in cuts regarding city employees.

Fulton County spokesperson Jessica Corbitt said this is in regard to a hard hiring freeze, where open positions will not be filled.

“At this point, they haven’t discussed a reduction in force,” she said.

The commissioners are anticipated to adopt a tentative budget by Dec. 19.
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