Friday, May 03, 2019

Budget Will Increase By More Than Four Percent, Oconee County Finance Director Tells Commissioners

***Property Tax To Remain Unchanged***

Oconee County will see 4.2 percent growth in its General Fund budget for fiscal year 2019-2020, County Finance Director Wes Geddings told the Board of Commissioners at its budget hearing last week.

That compares with a 4.5 percent increase the year earlier and brings the total general fund budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 to $30.4 million.

The revenue projections assume no change in the county’s millage rate of 6.686 in the unincorporated parts of the county and 7.646 in the county’s four cities.

Revenue is project to grow by 4.4 percent, including a 5.0 percent growth in income from the county’s property tax and a more modest 3.0 percent increase in income from the county’s sales tax.

The Water Resources Department, which is budgeted separately from the General Fund, is projected to have a decrease in its operating budget from $10.5 million in Fiscal Year 2019 to $10.1 million in Fiscal Year 2020, reflecting the more efficient operation of the Calls Creek Water Reclamation Facility.

Revenue for the Water Resources Department is expected to exceed expenditures.

Budget figures were preliminary, Geddings said, and he promised a final budget when the Board of Commissioners meets on Tuesday. Public hearings are scheduled for May 21 and June 4.

Overall Assessment

Before beginning the discussion of the budget requests of the various county departments, Geddings offered an overall assessment of the county’s financial status.

Geddings Addressing Five Commissioners
Daniell, Thomas, Horton, Wilkes, Saxon, (L-R)

“I just want to report,” Geddings said at the April 23 meeting, that the county is financially sound to date.”

The county’s Fund Balance, or savings, is $17,925,000, Geddings reported.

Geddings projected that spending in Fiscal Year 2020 would exceed revenue by $91,499.

The numbers will change as county puts together the final budget, Commission Chair John Daniell told the other commissioners at the end of Geddings’ presentation.

Public Safety

Geddings said that 40 percent of the budget is devoted to public safety.

Public Safety is funded in different categories in the budget.

The budget includes $3.0 million for the jail operations, up 3.1 percent from the current fiscal year.

The funding for the Sheriff’s Office is $4.1 million, up 5.8 percent.

Gedding said most of that cost was in personnel, reflecting stepped pay increases based on time in position.

Fire and Emergency Management Services is budgeted at just more than $1 million, and the Emergency Management Agency is budgeted at $150,985.

E911 is budgeted at $1.1 million.

Animal Services

Animal Services now falls in the Public Safety budget category, and its budget is to decline to $466,637 from $470,817 in the current budget.

That is a drop of a little less than 1 percentage point, and Geddings called the budget “basically flat.”

Geddings said that the capital projects are not included in the Animal Services budget he presented.

“Some of the capital requests that they requested are very eligible for the capital funds coming from the sales tax SPLOST dollars,” Geddings said.

The language of the 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax designates a projected $750,000 for “Animal Control Facilities,” giving the Board much leeway in how it allocates those monies.

Other Large Expenditures

The budget includes $4 million for Public Works, up 7.0 percent from the current fiscal year.

The Parks and Recreation Department budget presented by Geddings is for $3.4 million, up 2.9 percent from the $3.3 million for Fiscal Year 2019.

Community Development, which includes Economic Development, Tourism and the Civic Center, is budgeted at $1.7 million, up 2.6 percent from the current budget.

The Economic Development expenditure is for debt service for the bond used to entice Caterpillar to located its plant in the county and for the construction of Parkway Boulevard extension, Geddings told Commissioner Chuck Horton.


After the hearing, Geddings provided me with projected revenue figures by department.

They show $16.1 million from the Tax Commissioner Office and $9.9 million from the Finance Office.

The latter includes the Local Option Sales Tax and other fees, Geddings said during the hearing.

The Parks and Recreation Department is budgeted to generate $1.4 million.

The Clerk of Courts revenue is projected at $0.7 million, and the same figure is listed for the Planning and Code Enforcement Department.


The video below is of the budget hearing on April 23, 2019.


Xardox said...

Talk to a Commissioner about Oconee County taxes and
he will be sure to immediately and proudly mention
the millage rate is still level.
Of course, property owners watch their tax bills continue to rise
due to zooming property values and valuations.
With the tremendous growth of business in the county,
it just doesn't seem to compute that property owners can't seem to get a break. T-SPLOST, E-SPLOST, and now another proposed X-SPLOST,
to take the sales tax to 8%.
What was that about death and taxes?

Anonymous said...

Here comes the slick language and quick passing of yet another government budget costing the taxpayers more. Is it presented without detailed department spending available for the public to review? An overview based on a a short report to the unresponsive and disengaged commission does not justify passing the budget.

Daniell’s inability to discuss the budget outside a grin and move it on will leave our county in serious budget crisis in the near future. But of course, it can all be wiped away with more taxes in various dubious forms. Taxpayers, watch out for the shiny objects you will be asked to pay for. Many citizens will not be able to live here 5-10 years from now.

Word to describe Daniell and what is going on-Obfuscation
Meaning-obscure, unclear, unintelligent, confused or stupefying.
He can only present developments to the public until after the fact in a vague manner. He sets up layers of bureaucracy so he is not held accountable or to be questioned.

The people of Oconee County are left with our quality of life threatened and neighborhoods in jeopardy. Supporting our great school system and the BOE direction is in question by the lack of respect from Daniell and his disconnect procedures, all supported by a silent board. Citizens are left with more roads to build or deals with developers that require our tax dollars to make it happen. SPLOST not fully going to projects based on ambiguous language at the ballot box.. That is the tip of the iceberg.

And the BOC wants more.

Zippity said...

If you add people,you must add services so taxes inevitably have to rise to pay for this People want police, parks,roads and more people need more of these. The schools bring people and the cows and chickens who dont need services give way to people who do The commissioners are just citizens willing to serve. If you don’t like what they are doing, go to the meetigs or run for office.

Anonymous said...

The commissioners are “willing” to serve for a nice little salary. Danielll weighs in at a starting pay of $100,000 plus retirement benefits. The rest of the gang are paid an average of $20-25,000 plus benefits. The healthcare is an additional $10,000 benefit. You could not get that deal anywhere and “work” part time. Ask any part time worker. They guys get about $350.00 a meeting to literally sit there. The BOE receives little salary and produces one of the finest school systems. No these BOC guys are way overpaid.

It seems Daniell is very pleased with himself to have cut county government employees. So much for the theory of more people living in Oconee we need more employees to provide services. Budget shows additional staff was added to the Sheriffs Department. Law enforcement needs the qualified staff. We all agree with that point. However, for years the Parks Department asked for additional employees and Daniell said NO. And by the way they were told-keep working with the increase of people using the parks and it’s programs. Ask the folks of Bishop/441, Calls Creek, Lenru Road, etc how their taxes are making them feel their needs and quality of life are addressed.

Smart, dedicated individuals have run for office over the years. It seems Oconee hasn’t gotten the message it really needs to focus on the future and shed the boys club duds and elect individuals ready to work toward a promising Oconee.

Got all this from Dr. Becker’s blog and videos, local newspaper, county web site minutes and occasionally attending. I still see no measurable improvement for such a wonderful county.

Anonymous said...

Economics 101
Please apply logic and reason. You don’t need more taxes because of an increase in population, you need an efficient government.
Tax Revenue vs. Tax Rate
As the population grows you will increase the Tax Revenue, therefore; there is no reason to in increase the Tax Rate.
Funds from the following:
Property Tax
Sales Tax Revenue
are the main revenues for the county budget.
More house sales mean more property tax and more people purchasing locally.

If the BOC treats SPLOST as a General Fund Pot and does not apply the money to SLOST Projects all funding is spent inefficiently.
The S in SPLOST is for special projects not General Fund. Retail and Property Tax provide plenty to run government. It appears the BOC has forgotten that.

The “Recession Made Me Do It” Analogue again leads back to mismanagement of funds. The recession was 10 years ago. You adjust spending during lean and fat times. The BOC is turning the economic downturn into a 20-25 year problem with inflated taxes. The BOC is creating a long-lasting financial problem for taxpayers for their easy spend solution-
Our pocketbooks their incompetent policy.
The citizens have no input on how money is spent.