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Commissioners adopt $625M budget, staff raises; tax hike looms
by Noreen Cochran
February 03, 2014 04:08 PM | 1305 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During a special called meeting Jan. 27, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners adopted 2014 budgets for the county general fund, south Fulton special services district fund and others.

The general fund budget is about $625 million.

The south Fulton budget is about $50 million.

County Manager Dwight Ferrell said in a statement, “Today the Fulton County Board of Commissioners adopted a very progressive budget for [fiscal] 2014 that will move the county in the right direction as it continues to work towards right-sizing governmental operations and being more fiscally responsible by identifying cost efficiencies.”

The 2014 budget assumes a millage rate increase of 1.57 mills for the general fund, to be brought to a formal vote in May.

This is the first millage rate increase in that fund in at least a decade, Ferrell said.

For a homeowner with a residence having a fair market value of $100,000, the increase will cost about $15.70 annually.

For a $500,000 home, the increase will be about $18 a month, or $216 a year.

The board allocated to Grady Memorial Hospital about $45 million for operating expenses and about $16 million for debt service payment, for a total of about $61million.

It also gave county employees a cost of living increase of 3 percent.

County employees have not seen a pay increase in seven years.

“It’s their time,” Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards said.

The board eliminated proposed reductions to senior transportation and infant vitality programs and, for arts and culture, reduced a proposed cut of $1.5 million to $750,000.

In south Fulton, the budget includes several enhancements including:

- $500,000 to hire five police officers

- $300,000 for 10 code enforcement vehicles

- $200,000 for a soccer field at Wilkerson Mill Park.

County Chairman John Eaves said the 5-2 vote allows the county to maintain “a high level of service for its constituents and a renewed commitment to improving the lives” of county employees.

“We hope this sends a message to our employees that their hard work on behalf of our citizens is greatly appreciated,” he said in a statement.

The county eliminated proposed cuts to the justice system, jail diversion programs and adult behavioral health services.

But senior centers will raise meal prices and membership fees, generating about $400,000.

All but two libraries will be closed on Fridays as a result of $6 million in cuts.

“During this budget process, economic sacrifices had to be balanced with the need to provide services to our residents,” said Eaves. “The funding is in place to solve many of our current needs.”

Commissioners Liz Hausmann and Robb Pitts voted against the budget.

Hausmann questioned the wisdom of granting pay raises while raising taxes and Pitts objected to voting for the budget in an “all or nothing” manner, according to Eaves, instead of line by line as in the past.

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