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County schedules budget hearings
Newton County

COVINGTON, Ga. - The Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) has scheduled a series of public hearings to discuss the County’s fiscal year 2018 budget. The budget includes a tax increase, but no millage rate increase.

The BOC reached a consensus on the county’s fiscal year 2018 budget June 26 and gave County Manager Lloyd Kerr and Finance Director Nicole Cross the go-ahead to prepare the final budget for presentation this month.

Commissioners tentatively agreed to maintain the county’s current 13.441 millage rate which, because of an increase in property tax assessments, will require a 10.95 percent tax increase.

The proposed budget calls for a 5 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for county employees except sworn deputies and fire service field operations personnel.

Firefighters and deputies are scheduled to receive market adjustment pay increases consistent with the Market Analysis and Recommendations study presented to the BOC in May.

The raises will be phased in in two increments with the 5 percent being split with employees receiving a 3 percent increase in July and the remaining 2 percent in January 2018.

Employees receiving market adjustment increases would receive half of the raise in July and half in January 2018.

Low salaries have been seen as an impediment to attracting and retaining qualified and experienced County employees, especially deputies and firefighters. Commissioners are hoping the pay increases will help address that problem.

The budget plan also calls for the County to transfer $250,000 into its cash reserves, $100,000 into its fund balance and $354,891 into its contingency fund.

The budget hearings are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on July 18 and 6 p.m. on July 25. All hearings will be held in the boardroom at the Historic Courthouse.