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BOC looks for last minute cuts to 2011 budget
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Commissioners JaNice Van Ness and Oz Nesbitt met with department heads and some elected officials on Friday morning in a last ditch effort to look for areas to cut in the proposed $54.5 million 2011 budget before it goes up for to vote at the second reading on Dec. 14.

The 2011 proposed budget is about $900,000, or 1.6 percent, more than the goal of this year’s revised budget.

VanNess strongly requested themeeting during the Dec. 7 BOC work session, saying she had called for such a meeting for quite some time. Nesbitt said he felt any savings to be had would have been found by now, but was willing to meet with department heads.

The commissioners went into executive session for 40 minutes at the beginning of Friday's meeting to discuss personnel.

When they came out, they questioned department heads on increases

in their budgets, including the $900,000 in additional personnel expenses in the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office and additional personnel for the newly formed Department of Transportation. RCSO Capt. Tommy Eaton explained much of the increase came from personnel positions that had been added in 2009 weren’t fully filled in 2010, but were fully filled in 2011. Department of Transportation Director Miguel Valentine explained that in order to keep recently granted local certification from GDOT to manage local federal projects, instead of relying on GDOT to manage the projects, full time personnel would be required.

Tax Commissioner Dan Ray said his statement on the possible 2011 tax digest – a 1 percent increase – was a best case scenario drawn from existing values on the books, before the adjustment period takes place in the first part 2011. However, he said he would not be surprised to see a similar situation as this year, where the digest was estimated to drop 3 percent and ended up dropping more than 8 percent lower than the previous year.

The county had scrambled this summer to cut more than $1.7 million with personnel cuts and holiday furloughs on top of an already anticipated 1 mill increase to balance the budget.

Finance Director Roselyn Miller said she had built the 2011 budget using an estimated drop in tax digest of a 3 percent drop.

Ray said 2011 was one of the most volatile years for tax digest estimates because the state is now seeing the effects of the 2009 law that takes into account nearby foreclosure sales in the assessment of property values.


In other BOC business:


- Proposed changes to leash laws and animal impoundment fees have also been taken off the agenda until details in the fee schedule can be worked out.


- A foreclosure registry has also been taken off the agenda after commissioners spoke with local realtors, who pointed out existing laws on the books could be better enforced to collect the same information.


- At the Dec. 7 work session, the Commissioners discussed reorganizing the structure of the county departments.

In the proposed changes, which will come up for a second read on Dec. 14, the Department of Public Services and Engineering would become the Department of Transportation. The new department would oversee traffic engineering, roads and drainage, and the sign shop.

A newly formed Department of Planning and Development would contain the divisions of planning, zoning, business and development relations, permits and licences, forestry, building and development inspections, code enforcement and community compliance.

The Parks and Recreation Department will now become the Department of Recreation and Maintenance. That department would have facilities, vehicles and equipment maintenance, parks and recreation division, senior services, the recycling center and special projects.

The former Public Affairs and Media Relations Department will now become the Department of Community Relations and Innovative Programs.


- Rockdale Water Resources also proposed new job descriptions and pay grade increases for two existing positions. The Customer Services Liaison would now become the Customer Account and Business Services Liaison and move from paygrade 68 to paygrade 74. The Data Systems Administrator would now become the Applications Analyst – a position that would be under MIS but work exclusively with RWR – and move from paygrade 70 to paygrade 75.

RWR Director Dwight Wicks said the difference in salaries would be funded by the savings from the water meter replacement program.