Commission to get first crack at budget Thursday

Thursday at 5 p.m., the Fayette County Commission will conduct its first workshop meeting on the 2013-2014 budget proposed by County Manager Steve Rapson.

The meeting will be at the county’s Stonewall government complex in downtown Fayetteville.

No property tax increase is planned and the budget is projected to add $728,964 to the county’s reserve fund by the end of the year, providing $33.48 million in reserve and rainy day funds.

While the county is eliminating the Marshal’s Department and 11 positions, six of those employees are being transfered to other county departments to fill similar duties at the sheriff’s office, in code enforcement and at the water system.

The budget also adds two new positions: a systems analyst employee in information systems and also an assistant water plant director for the water system as required by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

To reap the savings of the county’s early retirement program that was offered last year, the county eliminated 22 full-time equivalent positions in the budget on top of the 18 positions eliminated in the retirement program.

The county is also shifting its five stormwater employees into the general fund.

Commission Chairman Steve Brown has said he is pleased the presented budget is balanced, noting that in previous years the county dipped into its reserve fund to balance the budget.

Those dips into the reserve fund were planned in advance, however, as commissioners cut the budget to eke out extra savings in prior years to build an additional rainy day fund on top of the county’s normal reserve fund.

The one remaining question hanging over the budget deals with the stormwater department, as Brown is backing a countywide sales tax initiative to provide funding to replace culverts and other stormwater infrastructure. If that tax is denied by voters in November, the county will have to find another way to fund those improvements.

The county took some heat from residents earlier this year over the creation of a stormwater utility, which resulted in residents in the unincorporated area receiving bills that many were not prepared for. The concept of using sales tax proceeds for stormwater improvements was the result of citizen feedback at several meetings on the issue.