Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor approved the local government’s fiscal year 2021 budget at a public meeting Wednesday morning.
“That budget for the year is $91,244,900 and with all the other enterprise funds, it’s $150,536,000,” said Bartow County Administrator Peter Olson. “The general fund is up about 4.8%.”
Last year’s approved budget, including enterprise funds, came out to about $137.4 million. Olson said the bulk of the increase in spending comes in the form of Bartow County Water Department capital projects.
“We probably won’t get to them all, but we budget for them in case we can,” he said. “And things pop up in the middle that aren’t planned for the water department — you never know when a line’s going to break or something that’s going to break that’s going to require an emergency.”
As for general fund expenditures, Bartow County Sheriff's Office expenses are tabbed at about $26.8 million while Bartow County Fire Department expenses are tabbed at around $14.5 million.
Elsewhere in the FY '21 budget, about $9.4 million is set aside for road department expenditures, with $4.1 million included for parks and recreation expenses. The County's solid waste fund is tabbed at $5.5 million.
Of the roughly $52 million enterprise fund expenditures, water department expenses are tabbed at $25.5 million, with about $19.4 million listed for capital projects and another $2.3 million included for departmental debt services.
Heading into the new fiscal year, Olson said the County carries no SPLOST-related general obligation debt.
“The County doesn’t have any general obligation debt outstanding at all,” he said. “The water department has some Georgia Environmental Finance Authority debt that they service, about $2 million a year … now’s a good time to borrow because the interest rate we can get is like 0.13%.”
Olson noted that the County maintains a roughly $2.9 million debt guarantee with LakePoint Sporting Community.
“They took a blow with COVID, that was one of the industries — tourism, travel ball — that was pretty hit, so they had a rough last year,” he said. “But they’re on a better trajectory this year, so we’ll see what they can make towards that debt payment. And what they can’t make, we have to make.”
Olson briefly touched upon a proposed federal stimulus package that, if approved, would allocate a projected $350 billion to State and local governments.
“We haven’t grown the budget that much and the revenue looks healthy,” he said. “To the extent that we can apply for some of this money, we’ll try.”
While industrial slowdowns may be the norm in other parts of the country, Olson said that certainly hasn’t been the case in Bartow.
“Everybody went on pause in March and April and that created all of these factory shutdowns and that created production bottlenecks, supply line disruption,” he said. “As far as we know, everybody’s pretty much rip-roaring again — there’s hundreds of job openings.”
Taylor also approved several amendments to the Bartow County FY ’20 budget at Wednesday’s public meeting.
“This year we’re amending the overall budget from $86,974,000 to $88,483,000,” Olson said. “There were about six departments that went over budget, mostly due to the coronavirus … the sheriff’s and the fire department got hazard pay for several months, which we didn’t budget for. And there was some additional money spent on supplies, equipment in terms of sterilization, treating for the disease, disinfection.”
Olson said federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding was used for many of those expenses.
“So this did not put us in a bad situation financially,” he said. “We had more than enough CARES money to cover it.”
One non-budgetary item was on the agenda — a contract with Gen-Tech for generators at three Bartow County Fire Department stations.
The majority of the funding for the purchases — which includes a local match within the 10% to 20% range — is derived from a hazard mitigation grant. The generators would be placed at the stations in White, Kingston and Folsom.
Taylor approved the agreement, which totals $85,920.