Newton BOC agrees to FY 2018 Budget
Vote on budget approval set for July 25
NEWTON COUNTY, GA - The Newton County Board of Commissioners came to a consensus on a budget for Fiscal Year 2018 and will hold three public hearings before voting on it on July 25.
The first public hearing will be at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 18, followed by another at 6:30 p.m. that same day. The third and final public hearing will be at 6:30 p.m. on July 25, prior to a 7 p.m. special called meeting in which the board will vote on the budget. All public hearings will be held at the Newton County Historic Courthouse.
If approved, the balanced budget would reflect $59,516,520 in total expenditures from a revenue of $31,840,858 driven by a mill of 13.441 and other revenues of $27,675,662. Under this budget, the millage rate for Fiscal Year 2018 will not be changed from the millage rate of Fiscal Year 2017.
The Board of Commissioners (BOC) discussed the budget during a work session Tuesday night, in which four of the five commissioners stated they would support the budget. The BOC began working on the budget in May, setting key priorities of raises for employees for retention and recruitment purposes and contributing money to cash reserves and the county’s fund balance.
With a growth of more than 7 percent to the county’s tax digest, the BOC was able to achieve its priorities without asking for an increase in millage rate.
Newton County’s Fire Services Operations employees and Sheriff’s Office Sworn Officers will receive raises to market level, as indicated by a study conducted by the BOC. Newton County’s other employees will receive a cost of living adjustement of a 5 percent increase in pay. The 5 percent increase will be divided into 3 percent given starting in July and the other 2 percent given Jan. 1, 2018. The public safety employees’ market adjustement will be split into two with half given in July and the other half on Jan. 1, 2018.
The pay adjustement gives the county another tool in retaining trained employees and recruiting additional quality workers.
“We’re finally moving in the right direction,” District 2 Commissioner Lanier Sims said. “I’d like to tahnk the emplolyees for hanging in there. We are now slowly getting our head back above water.”
Employees have also received a benefit due to the fact that the BOC has absorbed the cost of a health isnurance premium increase of $584,000.
With the budget priority of employee retention and recruitment being attended to, the BOC and county staff also addressed the issue of increasing the county’s financial reserves.
In the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget, $250,000 will be placed in cash reserves, $100,000 in fund balance and $354,891 in contingency. There will also be $450,000 set aside for a maximum amount to use on an EMS provider, which will be decided by soon-to-be-formed committee at a later date.
Due to a tax assessment of around 7 percent above the previous year, the county will hold three public hearings before voting to pass the budget ordinance on July 25.
"This budget works at providing services for our citizens and yet another reason for our employees to work in Newton County," Chairman Marcelo Banes said. "I'm glad to be a part of a board that suppors our employees. It's a new start for our public safety department. I am one proud chairman."