“This is approved, of course,” Taylor said at the public meeting that followed the third hearing. “It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but it was something that had to be done, in my opinion. It’s the least amount that we can set it and still operate. We continue to struggle with cutting expenses and may still have to consider eliminating some departments. The only source of funding is to raise ad valorem taxes since sales tax revenues have declined greatly.”
But is there anything left to cut?
“There’s nowhere left to cut, unless we reduce services,” County Administrator Peter Olson said earlier. “You could eliminate fire stations or reduce the number of ambulances or pave less roads and so forth. I mean, really, half the budget goes to public safety, and that’s not something most people want to see the reduction in the level of service on.”
Olson said the property tax digest, an amalgamate of all taxable properties — real property, personal property, vehicles, etc. — declined about 9 percent since 2008, with the real property portion down by 23 percent. “Sales tax revenue was down 17 percent in 2010 and fees declined as fewer permits for things like construction were issued.”
In order to reduce the deficits, Olson said the county reduced its payroll by more than 50 employees, froze raises for the past five years, required 12 furlough days for the past five years and deferred purchases of vehicles and equipment.
The commissioner also:
• reappointed Greg Culverhouse to the Lake Allatoona Preservation Society.
• approved an agreement with CHUN to provide health management services for county employees and retirees.
• approved a metropolitan transportation planning organization with Georgia Department of Transportation regarding a transportation planning process.
• authorized disposal of surplus county equipment.
• approved an agreement with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission to provide a nutrition program for the elderly.
• approved an agreement to purchase property adjacent to the water department.
The next meeting will be held Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 10 a.m. in the Commissioner’s Conference Room at the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center, 135 W. Cherokee Ave.