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Fulton commission talks furloughs, reduction in services
by Mary Cosgrove
August 07, 2012 03:06 PM | 1342 views | 1 1 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners is looking at ways to tighten its belt to prepare for a budget shortfall in the wake of voting against a property tax increase for the 2013 fiscal year.

The commissioners voted unanimously in July against increasing its millage rate to generate more revenue during a time where property values have fallen significantly. The end result would have been Fulton County residents paying higher property taxes, which the commissioners said did not sit right with them.

Under the direction of Chairman John Eaves, County Manager Zachary Williams made cost-saving suggestions to the board at its meeting last week.

Williams said the budget shortfall for 2012 has been estimated at $74.1 million, with revenues generated in 2012 estimated at $507.9 million and expenditures for 2013 at $582 million.

He said a soft hiring freeze enacted this year will save the county $16.8 million and operations savings of $20 million will also be saved.

Williams suggested strengthening the soft hiring freeze to a hard freeze, which would save the county $10 million in 2013, and additional $5 million in savings could be found through county employee furloughs, five total, in 2013.

Increased employee contribution to healthcare by 2 percent would save the county $1.1 million and across-the-board department reductions of 2 percent would save $15 million — all for a total of $31 million savings in 2013.

Williams also said measures could be taken this year for more savings, and suggested the board move forward with postponing the renovation of the South Fulton Government Annex, which would save $2.4 million, and eliminating library hours on Sundays for $200,000 saving in 2012 and an eventual $1 million savings in 2013.

“I would request the board’s support in allowing us to move forward with the two items I listed,” he said.

Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards opposed postponing the renovation of the annex.

“There is a need for us to have facilities to provide the services for the people,” he said. “It’s not right to the citizens who need this service.”

Commissioner Liz Hausmann said she was not in favor of reducing library hours, especially on a Sunday, which she said she assumes is a busy time for students.

“We’re building eight new libraries and having this discussion,” she said. “I hope the rest of you see the irony there.”

Eaves suggested a work session to further discuss cost savings to the county before the commission’s next meeting Aug. 15.

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