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November 25, 2006

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS OF 2007 JASPER COUNTY BOC BUDGET

There has been $800,700 of debt added to the budget for “capital purchases.”
This seems to include everyone’s wish list from Elections to Recreation. The biggest item is $478,000 of “Road and Paving Equipment” for the Public Works Dep’t. There have been questions asked by both the public and the Commissioners if there were qualified personnel to operate and maintain any new paving equipment.

The overall budget, including the $800,700 of borrowed money, is up over $1,000,000. One commissioner has spoken out about increasing the budget with borrowed money, and that is Comm. Bernard. He said at the 11/6/06 BOC meeting that he didn’t mind borrowing money for Road Maintenance Equipment, but he felt there should be $300,000 of cuts to bring the budget down and not have to borrow any other money. The County Manager balked and said, “I think the budgets are in line with operations over last several years. The only way is to cut personnel.” It is time someone did cut personnel.

The County Manager and the CFO both have made comments about the salaries and the UGA Salary and Wage Study. As TWG has said before, the salary and wage study is a waste of money. If we have a study it should be to determine just what some of the employees actually do and what is their actual job description. We have employees running businesses during office hours. We have employees that never seem to run out of vacation, sick, and comp time because they can be out of the office weeks at a time or several days a week and still have “time built up” to be paid. We have employees that spend an abundance of time on the phone with personal calls or surfing the web, but we have little supervision. It’s not the salary; it’s what the employees do or don’t do and still are paid that salary. Barrow County has a UGA Salary study and they were told they needed to add 39 more employees. Oconee County had a UGA Salary study and they were told to raise everyone 8%. It’s a circle—this county makes more so you need to go up, then the next county needs to increase to stay in line, and on and on.

On 11/6/06 Comm. Bernard told both the County Manager and the CFO he wanted them to come up with $300,000 of cuts. Comm. Bernard also told them he wanted a list of all the Full Time Employees for 2006 and which departments were asking for more FTE for 2007. There have been 2 work sessions since 11/6/06 and the County Manager did neither of these requests. (Note: It is the County Manager’s job to present the budget and to prepare the budget—as stated in his job description. The BOC has asked for a budget since July (or earlier) and the County Manager finally produced one in November—with $800,000+ of debt to make it balance.) Comm. Pennamon stated that he thought the BOC should make the cuts, but at the last work session he said the budget only went up 2.8% and he was happy with it; Comm. Pennamon suggested no cuts. TWG believes some Commissioners are more concerned about being Santa Claus and granting all the wishes of every department rather than making cuts of waste and unnecessary expenditures. And yes, there are some even though every department feels their requests are justified. When it’s OPM (Other Peoples Money) it’s much easier to request wants instead of needs.

EXPENDITURE INCREASES:

General Fund
2006 Budget
2007 Budget
Increase
General Gov’t 2,055,853 2,254,962 9.7%
Judicial 600,300 702,964 17.1%
Public Safety 3,007,223 3,223,809 7.2%
Public Works 963,974 1,090,620 13%
new equipment
---- 478,000  
Recreation 98,629 119,480 21.14%
Ext Serv, P&Z, Bldg Insp 176,837 277,800 57.09%
Other Appropriations      
(EDA, Hospital, etc.)
1,320,861 1,107,665  

(decrease has to do with SPLOST transfers in 2006 of $277,000)


More Details
2006 Budget
2007 Budget
Increase
Extension Serv 53,903 69,470 29%
Building Inspection   57,060  
Planning & Zoning 122,934 151,270  

**P&Z and Building Inspection were together in 2006;
2007 proposed separation, yet the increase between the two separated is 69%
$36,000 of increase is for Impact Fee and Zoning Ordinance studies.

**Also note that Extension Service has a separate budget from UGA
which BOC has never seen. What is REAL cost of that “department”?

SALARY INCREASES GIVEN BY THE STATE:
(which local taxpayers are responsible for through increased taxes)
These increases are obtained through powerful lobbies on the State Level.

Elected Official
2005
2006
2007
Increase
Sheriff Roper   52,040 62,404 20%
Probate Mock 31,378 44,714 56,738 27%
Clerk of Court Jordan 62,793 64,001 74,083 16%

(**Includes County supplement of $2400 plus $11,649 of supplements for Juvenile, Magistrate, and Jury Manager)

Tax Commissioner Faulkner

46,669 47,579 61,878 30%
Magistrate Jackson 59,030 59,810 72,525 18%

(for working ??? hours a week in Jasper as Magistrate? Is also paid
for Juvenile work in several other counties including Jasper in addition to salary)


REVENUE INCREASES
2006
2007
Increase
General Property Taxes 5,598,400 5,617,800 19,400

(hard to believe with the increase many people received)

Public Safety  260,00 428,300  168,300

The BOC must be expecting many more tickets to be written and/or more money from the jail and/or 911. Public Safety includes Sheriff, Jail, Fire, EMS, Coroner, Animal Control, Emergency Management, and Code Enforcement. 

PUBLIC HEARING, NOVEMBER 27, 2006 AT 6:00pm

The TWG has attended two “work sessions” were little was done or changed from the proposed budget that includes a significant amount of debt. Those in attendance were the department heads, such as Ed Westbrook and Charles Roper, but also those agencies that live on OPM—“Other Peoples Money”. Economic Development and the Hospital were out in full force at the last work session. The Hospital and Family Connection are both private, non-profit agencies (501{c}3). These people rarely show up for a Commissioners meeting unless they want money.

Citizens should be able to give their comments on the budget at the public hearing. The budget will be adopted at the 12/4/06 Commissioners meeting the following Monday.
The citizens are the ones that foot the bill, but TWG expects little turn out. The OPM folks will be there in full force to pressure the Commissioners to give, give, give.

TWG
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** We advocate more open government, less government spending, and lower property taxes.

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