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Commissioners Approve Budget, Millage Rates

A packed boardroom watched commissioners Friday approve the county’s millage rates and budget for the 2013 fiscal year.

Amid a boardroom packed with county residents, Paulding County Sheriff’s Office deputies and others, members of the Paulding Board of Commissioners at a called meeting Friday approved the county’s budget for fiscal year 2013.

The budget (a copy of which is attached to this article) was passed by a vote of 4-1, with Commissioner Todd Pownall voting against. The commissioner again criticized the plans in the budget .

“As a small business owner, I feel like there are certain things that you do when you’re running a business, and I don’t feel like you can have furlough days and give raises. Furlough days, to me, means that you don’t have enough money to pay everybody all the time, so therefore you ask them to take three our four or five or six or 10 days off a year,” Pownall said. “When you give a raise, and you still have furloughs, you’re basically saying, ‘We don’t have money to pay you all the time, but we’re giving you a raise.’

“I don’t want anybody in this room, or anybody out in the public … to think that I do not support the fire department or the sheriff’s department. … However, in this budget, for us to carry on furlough days and continue to close this building and to close the government in one hand, and then in the other hand to say we’re going to give a pay raise—which, if you really figure the numbers, the pay raise would equal us getting rid of the furlough days—I think there’s an order that you do things in when things are going bad in the economy. When you try to get back to where you would like to be, I think there’s an order in the way you do it, [and] I think that order should have been first to get rid of furlough days and then look at what we could do in the future with pay raises. … I feel like the public should have the public open and that all of us should be at work.”

Commissioners during their meeting also approved several millage rates for the next fiscal year. On such measure was the county’s maintenance and operations millage rate, which commissioners raised from 7.6 to 8.29 mills—a move aimed at collecting next year the same amount of funds as this year’s millage. Commissioners voted 4-1 to increase the millage, with Pownall voting against.

Also receiving approval was a millage rate of 18.909 mills for the Paulding County School Board. The school board last month , a rate that has stayed put the last five years. A resolution approved by commissioners after the millage rate was set authorized the tax commissioner to retain a 2.5-percent fee for collecting the school tax.

In other business, commissioners approved:

  • The millage rate for the state of Georgia. State officials put forth a millage rate of 0.2 mills, down from 0.25; Finance Director Tabatha Pollard said state officials set the rate and ask counties to levy it.
  • An increase of the millage rate for the county bond from 1.87 mills to the rollback rate of 2.054 mills. The higher millage is aimed at keeping consistent the county’s payments toward its outstanding debt issues.

“As the levy declines, the debt payments don’t decline—they stay the same, so we’re required to collect the amount required to pay that debt, and that’s what this is,” Pollard said of the increase.

  • An increase in the millage rate for the county’s fire district. The millage will go from 2 to 3.1 mills, with the funds going toward the day-to-day operations of the fire department.

“With the digest declining, we were collecting less, and we had gone in and used some of our fund balance. This increase actually restores us to collecting what we need to operate the fire department,” Pollard said.

Commissioners in July —a move aimed at and keeping revenues at a point where they can staff current fire stations that will be improved, and new fire stations to be built, through the use of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.

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