BLUE RIDGE, Ga – The 2021 proposed county operating budget features a 2.8 percent increase from the 2020 budget.
The total will be $29,356,858 and a public hearing concerning the 2021 budget will take place on December 8, 2020 at 5:15 p.m. in third-floor assembly room. All interested parties are invited to attend. Following the public hearing, the board of commissioners will approve the budget during the December 8 commission meeting.
The 2020 budget was $28,564,665. The largest portion of the budget will go towards risk management, which includes health insurance. The county recently moved from self-insured to a fully insured plan.
“The challenge we have this year with the budget is the same challenge that every county, every state is having to deal with that is the [unexpected COVID-19 expenditures],” Chairman Stan Helton explained.
He cited the $2 billion of cutbacks in the state budget due to the pandemic. Helton also recognized that the hotel/motel tax and SPLOST assisted in seeing Fannin County through the difficult times.
“We really won’t know how the year is until the end of January when the new administration is here. By that time, they will have final 2020 revenue and cost numbers. My personal opinion that the times warrant being as conservative as we can with our budget, and at the same time, when the new administration is here, they’ll have a chance to look at it. If they choose to amend any department, they’ll have the option to do that.,” Helton furthered detail the reasoning behind the proposed budget.
Fannin hasn’t laid off or furloughed employees during the pandemic.
Post One Earl Johnson came out against the increase during a year when everyone is focused on saving money.
“I don’t know any of us that are spending more money…We’re not giving all our employees raising at least in my company and it’s kind of throughout all county governments,” Johnson said. “I’m going to ask everyone until this pandemic is over, we need to be very smart…I would suggest everyone be comfortable where you’re at.”
He added that he doesn’t want to leave “any future administration’s in a bind” and is against increasing any department’s budget in 2021. No one knows when the pandemic will end.
Post Two Glenn Patterson stated that some people are still hurting financially and inquired to the cost of living increases.
Helton then explained that the only increased in the 2021 budget were part of a state unfunded mandate for salary increases to reelected officials. It’s a state-level requirement for county governments to fulfill. CFO Robin Gazaway explained that one elected official will receive an estimated salary increase of $9,000 from county funds. The state doesn’t have to pay anything.