County’s bud­get for com­ing year de­layed un­til July

♦ Com­mis­sion ap­proves de­lay, will come back to num­bers at next reg­u­lar ses­sion ahead of In­de­pen­dence Day hol­i­day

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Sean Wil­liams [email protected]­hoo.com Editor Kevin Myrick con­trib­uted to this story.

Polk County’s June c om­mis­sion meet­ing con­firmed that the county will be op­er­at­ing on the 2018 bud­get for a while longer.

Hop­ing to ac­cu­rately pin­point all costs with­out mak­ing ed­u­cated guesses, the group is spend­ing ex­tra time work­ing out pri­or­ity de­tails such as the 80-20 re­tire­ment rule, re­duc­ing group in­surance costs, and giv­ing em­ployee raises.

“The board is still re­view­ing the bud­get, and they’re go­ing to have a cou­ple more work ses­sions, County Man­ager Matt Den­ton said. “Hope­fully they get all their ques­tions an­swered and ev­ery­thing worked out, and they’ll ad­dress it again in July.”

For the time be­ing, the county will con­tinue to op­er­ate as if the FY 2018 bud­get were start­ing all over again based on the amended val­ues passed ear­lier this year.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion sub­mit­ted the $22.1 mil­lion bud­get for con­sid­er­a­tion dur­ing their May reg­u­lar ses­sion, and a first work ses­sion was held on May 15 to al­low for the board to ask some ini­tial ques­tions and hear from de­part­ment heads seek­ing additional funds.

Com­mis­sion­ers want to start with a fresh process when it comes to the FY 2019 bud­get, so when it comes time to tally the amount of money ex­pected in and go­ing out each year, they do so with­out hav­ing to make ed­u­cated guesses at what is avail­able.

Over the past years the county along with the City of Rock­mart and City of Aragon have un­der­taken pass­ing their bud­get on a July to June year for their bud­gets. That means when of­fi­cials are de­ter­min­ing the pri­or­i­ties of spend­ing for the year for the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments, they are do­ing so with­out hav­ing a com­plete pic­ture of what they’ll get in from taxes and be able to spend through the rest of the year.

The rea­son has to do with the lo­cal prop­erty tax digest, which is com­piled an­nu­ally dur­ing the sum­mer and has to be sub­mit­ted to the state at the end of Au­gust.

Hence why in past years, lo­cal boards have de­ter­mined a mill­age rate to be set late in the sum­mer be­fore tax bills go out to lo­cal res­i­dents.

With­out hav­ing a com­pleted tax digest on hand, fi­nance of­fi­cials within the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have to de­ter­mine their bud­get based on es­ti­ma­tions of how much tax rev­enue is an­tic­i­pated for the year.

This forces ad­just­ments to the bud­gets, usu­ally at the mid­way or end of the bud­get cy­cle to ac­count for rev­enue that didn’t come in, or ex­penses that had to be cut.

Bud­get amend­ments also are used to add unan­tic­i­pated rev­enue to the bud­get, as the county had to do in past months in or­der to take in money from sev­eral sources that can then be used for spe­cific projects or pur­chases, like in­surance money re­ceived for wrecked ve­hi­cles in the county or grant money that wasn’t in­cluded in the past year.

Above all else, a ma­jor point of con­flict in­hibit­ing the 2019 bud­get stems from rev­enue sources. De­ter­min­ing where enough money to cover the pro­posed $22 mil­lion bal­anced bud­get will come from has made the board push back the bud­get’s adop­tion sev­eral times, and the June 5 meet­ing saw a sim­i­lar res­o­lu­tion.

Com­mis­sioner Chuck Thax­ton made the mo­tion to post­pone, but added his com­ments that he wanted to get it done as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I don’t want to see this be­come a six-month process like it has been, and for this first month, at least, we should see where our num­bers are. It might be that, it may be a bit more,” he said.

Post­pon­ing the bud­get saw unan­i­mous ap­proval, but the group has a work ses­sion planned to fur­ther work out de­tails on Tues­day, June 26 at 4 p.m. If needed, a sec­ond bud­get work ses­sion will be held on July 3 at 5 p.m. be­fore the reg­u­lar work ses­sion.

“Ev­ery­one here is hop­ing that it doesn’t go past July,” Den­ton said. “It’s a mat­ter of mak­ing sure they get it right.”

/ Sean

County Com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved ex­tend­ing the bud­get process, but of­fi­cials are hop­ing to get the job done by their next meet­ing in July.

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