Oconee County presented a $49.9 million Fiscal Year 2018 Budget to the public last (Tuesday) night that was balanced without requiring that any money be drawn from the county’s reserve funds, labeled the Fund Balance.
Finance Director Wes Geddings said he is projecting that the county will receive sufficient revenue, primarily from sales tax and property tax, in the 12 months starting on July 1 to cover the $49.9 million budget.
Geddings did not provide any details of his revenue projections, though he did indicate he expects the county’s tax digest, or the value of property in the county, to go up.
Since the county plans to keep its millage rate at 6.68 for the unincorporated parts of the county and 7.66 in the four cities, any increase in the tax digest translates into increased property taxes, on average, in the next Fiscal Year.
The $49.9 million budget represents an increase of 3.4 percent over the current budget of $48.3 million.
The budget Geddings presented to the public last night was a finalized version of the budget he presented to the Board of Commissioners at a called meeting on May 11.
At that meeting on May 11, Geddings had presented a General Fund budget of $26,941,884. Last night, the total for the General Fund was $26,943,955.
In addition to the General Fund budget, the total county budget includes $3.2 million in a Special Funds Budget, a $.7 million Capital Projects budget, a $11.3 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax budget, a $10.5 million Enterprise Funds budget, and a negative $2.6 million in Interfund Transfers.
The budget includes a 1.5 percent increase in Utility Department rates and increases of fees for some Parks and Recreation Department programs.
BOC Chairman John Daniell had told his fellow commissioners at the May 11 meeting that some slight changes were possible before the final budget was released to the public in the first of two public hearings.
The second public hearing on the budget will before the June 6 meeting of the Board of Commissioners. The Commission is scheduled to adopt the budget at the June 6 meeting.
Geddings told the commissioners that the county had not been able to balance its budget without drawing on the Fund Balance since Fiscal Year 2013.
Last year, Fiscal Year 2017, the county drew $662,000 from the Fund Balance to balance the budget adopted.
Only a handful of citizens attended the public hearing, which was before the regularly scheduled agenda-setting meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
I was the only citizen to speak, and I asked for details of the revenue projections.
Commission Chair Daniell said he will provide those figures to me, but he had not yet done so by the end of the day today.
New Pump Station
During the agenda-setting meeting, the Commission tentatively agreed to award a bid of $584,570 to Legacy Water Group LLC of Covington for construction of a new 125 gallons per minute submersible wastewater pumping station at Oconee Veterans Park plus 5,000 feet of 4-inch sanitary force main.
The pump station will replace a smaller pump station at the park.
The new pump station will allow the county to transfer 30,000 to 35,000 gallons per day of sewage from the Land Application Site on Rocky Branch Road, which is at capacity, to the Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant outside Watkinsville.
The county is in the process of expanding the Calls Creek plant.
Legacy was the low bidder among the four submitting bids for the project.
The Board put the item on its consent agenda for the June 6 meeting, meaning it will be approved without further comment unless a commissioner asks that it be removed from the consent agenda.
Right Of Way
Following the regular, public meeting, the Commission went into executive session to discuss land acquisition.
Approximately an hour later the Board emerged from the closed meeting and voted in public to award a contract for $41,700 to purchase .401 acre of right of way and 10,140 square feet of slope and grade easements at the intersection of Mars Hill Road and Rocky Branch Road.
The contract will be with Ram and Arundhathi Reddy, who own two parcels totaling nearly 13 acres at the intersection.
Commission Chair Daniell said the right of way and easements are for the interchange improvements “that we have been talking about for several months.”
The first video below is of the public hearing on the budget.
The second video is of the scheduled Board of Commissioners meeting.
Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie presented the bid for the pump station at Oconee Veterans Park starting at 2:20 in the second video.
The Board came out of executive session and voted on the contract for the Mars Hill Road and Rocky Branch Road intersection improvements at 38:25.