Second Public Hearing on Fr Co FY21 Budget Set for Tonight Before BOC Vote

Franklin County Commissioners will meet tonight in a called session to hear from the public one last time before voting to pass the FY2021 budget.

A public hearing takes place at 5:30p this evening at the Justice Center in Carnesville and at 6p the Board will convene a work session to vote.

The Board held their first public hearing on the budget earlier this month.

County Manager Beth Thomas outlined the proposed budget and noted the difficulty her office has had in putting the budget together because of the uncertainty with sales tax revenue.

“The overall economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis is still uncertain,” she said. “Our last sales tax revenue stream was comparable to what it was running over the last 18 months. That reflects the March sales. So, at that time, things were just getting started. Our sales tax that comes at the end of June will be reflected in April. I think that will give us a better understanding of what the impact was on sales tax.”

The County is looking at sales tax revenue losses of some $500,000 in the next fiscal year.

Thomas said right now they are anticipating a General Fund Revenue of $15,003,692, and total General Fund Expenditures of $14,988,997.

Thomas noted, however, that part of that money will come from inflationary growth revenue set aside last fiscal year for operational improvements that were never used.

“Last year we made a conscious decision that anything that we brought in in real growth or inflationary growth we would set aside. Our idea was we take that money and set it aside for a few years and then we could pay the debt service or pay a good chunk of it going forward. Well because of that approach, we now have that revenue that we did not use for operational purposes this year. So, we can use it this year to offset the drop in sales tax,” Thomas explained.

Another area where the county has lost revenue this year is from fines and court costs.

Georgia’s entire Court system was shut down in March due to COVID-19 and Thomas said that the effect of that loss in revenue on the FY21 budget is expected to be about $300,000.

The County will also see about a 7% increase in employee health insurance and salaries and wages. Currently, she said, County pay scale is below market compared to surrounding counties.

Some areas where the County will likely see unplanned expenses, according to Thomas, include a cost-of-living increase for employees, which is not in the new budget, but she hopes to add in later as the revenue improves.

Also, she said the need to improve the County Website and upgrade technology as well as upgrade the County’s Radio and EMS/911 Dispatch system are also planned projects with no funding in the next budget.

Franklin County’s fiscal 2021 budget begins on July 1.