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County sees $7.3 million drop in tax revenue
by Mary Cosgrove
mcosgrove@neighbornewspapers.com
May 30, 2012 05:01 PM | 638 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Facing yet another decline in its tax digest, Henry County is once more tightening its belt for the 2012-13 budget.

The budget, which was expected to be adopted Wednesday, is $115.5 million.

This year, the county is seeing a $7.3 million reduction in tax revenues, for a 17.89 percent reduction in its residential tax digest, a 6.12 percent reduction in its commercial property digest and a 7.17 percent decrease in its industrial tax digest.

The previous fiscal year, the digest fell $381 million for a total $4.9 million budget shortfall.

In 2010, the county saw a $1 billion drop in its property values.

All told, this year the county is only expected to see $105,426,718 in revenue.

To brace for the shortfall, the county has made cuts of $4.1 million to the 2012-13 budget.

“We have reached a point that we are no longer trimming fat,” County Manager Fred Auletta said. “We have to cut to the bone.”

A few cuts the county has made include several departments eliminating cleaning services for their buildings for a savings of $102,000; contributions to outside agencies such as Helping His Name Food Pantry and Haven House were suspended for a savings of $113,475; and commissioners cut their salaries by 20 percent.

The commissioners are now paid $35,000; the additional pay of $15,862 to the vice chairman was cut and the chairman’s salary was cut by 5 percent for an annual pay of $54,752.

The change won’t take place until the new term begins Jan. 1, 2013, but it will net a savings of nearly $37,000 in its first year.

Henry County residents may see the impact of one particular cut —road improvements.

The county’s department of transportation has nixed its repaving budget for the past several years, relying solely on the SPLOST repaving budget. Those funds have now dwindled to the point where this year, the remaining funds can only repave 10 miles of road compared to the previous 30 miles in years past.

The county has $31 million in its fund balance — a rainy day account that has helped the government achieve an AA1 bond rating.

Auletta said it’s imperative to maintain and not dip into those funds, and to rather find other sources of revenue.

One of the ways the county is pursuing that is raising the Henry County Parks and Recreation impact fee from $10 to $20, which county Communications Director Julie Hoover-Ernst said is anticipated to generate $98,000.
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