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BOC Notebook: Holiday furloughs, 1 mill tax rate increase approved
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The County Board of Commissioners passed a three-day holiday furlough and a tax rate increase from 14.53 to 15.53 mills to help close a budget gap of more than $4 million in the $55.5 million budget.

The furloughs were approved unanimously by the board at the Aug. 24 BOC meeting. The 1 mill tax rate increase was passed with a vote of 2-1 with Commissioner JaNice Van Ness dissenting.

The Post II Commissioner said she voted against it out of frustration with the process and general opposition to tax increases.

"I'm not sure I have as clear of a picture I would like. Although I looked at a lot of financial information, it just seems to be a changing target. I know as a whole we worked together to try and make some much needed cuts. I think there was a better way we could have gone about it," she said.

The 1 mill rate increase is estimated to bring in about $2.6 million and the three holiday furloughs will save about $300,000. Earlier, in the year, the county cut about $1.4 million in salaries and benefits by cutting more than 30 positions, and in general operating costs cuts, according to Finance Department Director Roselyn Miller.

Miller pointed out with the general tax digest shrinking more than originally estimated - about 8.1 percent down instead of 3 percent - even with the 1 mill increase the amount of taxes to be collected will be about $1.2 million less than what was collected in 2009.

The three holiday furloughs are Sept. 6, Labor Day, Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving, and Dec. 23, the day before Christmas. Employees will also not be allowed to use paid time off on those days.

The furloughs will apply to county employees in the general fund, not in Water, Sewer, or Stormwater, which operate on separate enterprise funds. Departments run by constitutional and elected officials and the juvenile court judge and public defender also have the option of cutting an equivalent amount to the three-day furlough savings from their budget instead. The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office opted to do this in the beginning of the discussion and cut about $135,000 instead of administering furlough days.

The vote on holiday furloughs was deferred from July after other constitutional officers expressed interest in the option of cutting an equivalent amount and after the Water and Sewer Authority Board protested including Rockdale Water Resources employees in the furloughs.