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