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County official seeks budget priorities
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Tasked with paring down an additional $5.47 million worth of budget requests in fiscal year 2014, County Manager John Middleton is leaning on department heads to tell him what they most need to move the county forward.

Newton County has received a total of $50.37 million in requests from various departments, but is only expecting to receive $44.5 million or $45.86 million in revenue, depending on whether the Board of Commissioners decides to keep the current millage rate, 10.91, or the rollback rate of 11.59.

The rollback rate is the tax rate that allows the county to collect the same amount of property tax as last year based on the change in total property values.

This year overall property values are expected to decline, which is why the rollback rate is higher.

Middleton didn’t list any specific objectives he wants to see carried out county-wide, but said the county has to move forward.

"Both of those budgets have got to have some elements that move us forward. Period," Middleton said.

As far as trimming down requests to match revenues, Middleton said he’s going to be looking at the bigger line items, saying officials won’t "count paperclips," but will try to be thoughtful about what’s needed.

"I expect our department heads and constitutional officers will provide us consultation of what is their budget priority. You can have five or six things you’d like to do, but which one do you really want to do? I want to know what their priorities are departmentally and county wide," Middleton said.

A copy of the county budget book is available to be viewed by the public at the Historic Courthouse in the finance department.