BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Tax Assessors Plan Out 2020 Budget and Discuss Late Homestead Mailings during their meeting on Friday, July 12, 2019.
The board discussed personnel to finalize their budget plans, requesting $686,751.21 total for their 2020 budget.
If you’ve applied for a homestead exemption and you’ve yet to have it go through, this is because of a change in staffing and the board states that mailings have been sent out as of Monday, July 15, 2019.
As of now, the next meeting will be Friday, August 2, 2019 at 2 pm for anyone interested in attending.
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Blue Ridge, Ga – Rushton & Company presented 2018 audit findings and attempted to address the reasoning behind adjusting each line item at the end of the year.
The company’s representative Sam Latimer outlined 2018 audit and issued an unmodified opinion aka no areas for concern. However, left 12 comments for improvements in their report.
Overall, Fannin County Government behaved fiscally responsible according to the audit, not exceeding the operating budget. However, health insurance significantly overspent.
The operations budget took in $26,680,936M in net investment in capital assets, $6,639,299M in restricted assets, $9,304,456M in unrestricted assets, and $42,624,691 for a total net position.
Revenue over expenses for the year equaled $1,194,327, which occurred because of the increase in property and sales taxes. Property tax increased $229,000 and a total revenue increase of $740,000, most of that comes from sales tax. LOST is up $260,000, and title ad valorem increased by $186,669. Fines and forfeitures decreased by $175,000, and other revenues increased $80,000.
Expenditures increased by $1.1M, largely due to insurance claims. The health insurance claims accounted for $700,000, superior court increased around $100,000, and fire increased by $527,000, due to buying three new trucks.
The unassigned fund balance accounts for 6.7 months of operation with $10,314,184, which is considered great shape by the auditors. The state of Georgia requires counties to have at two to four months of operating expenses stored away.
Post One Commissioner Earl Johnson questioned who made the recommendation and decision behind moving each line item at the end of the year.
“You’re here to just look at what we’re doing. Why are you helping move funds from one line to another?” asked Johnson.
Latimer explained that he just advises and management makes the final decisions. Rushton and Company make recommendations.
“Why are you helping CFO move numbers around,” questioned Johnson, “The reason why I am asking is because I think it’s part of my job.”
Rushton and Company has always made the three percent adjustments, and try to advise, but not make final decisions. Latimer stated he didn’t know why the final adjustment took place so late into the year this year.
Johnson stated that he would have loved to talk to Latimer before this meeting, but he never spoke to him or anyone from Rushton and Company this year. It’s difficult to understand the budget when you can add $500,000 to roads for one large adjustment at the end of the year. It suggests that maybe some budgets don’t need to be as large.
“Nothing raised a flag on my end,” said Latimer, “If adjustments should be done earlier and throughout the year, then that might need what we get to. The year-end adjustment then hopefully would be pretty small. We would come to you for approval of each adjustment. ”
Blue Ridge, Ga – Fannin County’s operating two percent under budget through April of 2019.
As of April 30, 33 percent of the budget’s been spent for the year with Fire/EMS/ EMA, Tax Assessor, Sheriff’s Office, and County Jail still showing over budget due to the first of the year lump sum lease and loan payments made at the beginning of the year.
Per the April 23 meeting, Chief Financial Officer Robin Gazaway broke out the Public Works and SPLOST Budget to provide more clarity about where the money comes from and is going.
“The public works old SPLOST is because we’re going to use the old money on the roads until it runs out, and then we’ll start on the new SPLOST,” explained Gazaway.
Baseball admissions factored in slightly into the recreation budget, but the month of May was not reflected in this report.
“We’re two percent under budget because we’re making up some of the differences from earlier in the year,” stated Gazaway, “LOST and SPLOST collections are up again this month from the prior years.”
EMA Director Robert Graham advised choosing Custom Works for the ambulance remounts at $104,980 as the most acceptable vendor for the job. The business also priced an add-on door locking systems for the ambulance at $1,800, bringing the total to $106,780.
“The locking system on the doors on the box [will be] activated front door locks when we lock the front doors,” said Graham, “We need this because we make many trips out of town to hospitals, and we need to lock the back of the truck. Our drugs and equipment are all in the back.”
Currently, seven doors and compartments must be locked with a key when getting out of the truck, and EMA employees must remember to unlock these doors when going back out to have access to them.
“It would be a great benefit to add that to this truck and going forward in the future to the standard bid specs,” lobbied Graham.
The truck won’t be available until closer to 2020 due to Chevrolet chassis unavailability.
Graham also confirmed that the county wouldn’t be short on equipment during this time with back-up trucks and placing an order for a new ambulance to replace an aging one with 90,000 plus miles on it.
Next, Graham introduced bids for a new ambulance to be purchased in the 2020 and on that year’s budget. Currently, new ambulance models aren’t available, but a waiting list has formed for 2020. Graham wanted to go ahead and get Fannin’s EMA name on the list.
“If we don’t get a truck each year that we fall behind and have maintenance issues,” said Graham.
“You had this idea that it was better to go ahead and place an order with the stipulation that it wouldn’t be delivered until after the first [of the year] because in the past you wouldn’t get this new ambulance until fall,” explained Helton to the room.
MEDIX proposed $140,130 for a 2020 model Chevrolet with the delivery after January 1, 2020. Custom Trucks and Bodyworks offered $143,021 for a 2020 model Chevrolet with the delivery after January 1. ETR, LLC proposed $187,768 for a 2019 model Ford F-450 with the delivery after January 1.
The Commissioners approved Custom Works for remount and tabled the new ambulance bids after Graham asked for more time to review.
Waste Management decision was tabled again to give the commissioner’s more time to review Advanced Disposal Systems and CASH proposals after meeting with both organizations.
Director of Public Works Zack Ratcliff experienced an equipment emergency after losing a 16-year-old mower in the middle of mowing season and had found a used replacement mower for $43,500 with 70,000 hours on it.
Post One Commissioner Earl Johnson said, “The piece that [the used mower] is replacing, we salvage it and get rid of it. It’s got way too many hours to put any more money into it.”
Ratcliff stated that he had no plans to fix the old mower with over 100,000 hours in it already.
The emergency purchase puts the county back at 10 mowers and back on track with mowing for the spring and summer.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – With 83.33 percent of the budget complete, Fannin County Finance Director Robin Gazaway revealed that the county is in good shape and currently four percent under budget for the 2018 fiscal year.
Gazaway presented an overview of the county’s budget at the latest Board of Commissioners meeting. Showing the standing of the county budget through Oct. 31 of this year, most departments are reporting right at their projected spending or a little below.
The Parks and Recreation Department is reporting approximately $224,000 in revenue for the year, and the Hotel/Motel tax has produced record numbers for the county.
Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax (SPOLST) revenues are also up in 2018. All of this added revenue points to a healthy economy in Fannin County.
A few departments showed overages with one being the Administration Department.
“The biggest difference is the health insurance cost,” Gazaway said explaining the slight overage in Administration.
The Administration Department recently took on the role of managing all healthcare costs and insurance, rather than having the cost divided among departments. This was due in large to protecting the anonymity of employees when it comes to healthcare.
Gazaway explained that this number will “level out” some as the county is reimbursed for monies spent and also pointed out that healthcare is an area of budgeting that is more difficult to predict.
The Public Safety Department also showed to be over their projected budget through October.
“Mostly that is due to the detention center,” Gazaway explained that Public Safety is another area that is difficult to plan ahead, “and that is something that just cannot be predicted. Most of the overages is due to the fact that there is more inmates.”
This point of interest regarding the Public Safety Department led to discussion about how spending is handled for inmates being held at the detention facility.
“Inmate medical is based on the number inmates,” Gazaway stated of the current system, “It’s not really based on if they are sick or not. They just have a set rate per inmate.”
Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton clarified, “I know that inmate medical and food, those two line items were quite a bit over for the year, and again it just gets back to having more inmates.”
Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen was present at the meeting and shed light onto the influx in Fannin County’s inmate population: “Numbers fluctuate. This time of the year they end up going a little bit higher over the colder part of the season. More crimes are being committed, as well as the holiday season is coming up. So you’re going to have some burglaries, people trying to steal things because people are buying them (gifts) getting ready for Christmas and the holidays.”
Bosen also added about inmate medical costs, “They either have this (illness) when they come in and they have no medical insurance and we’re stuck with it, or some do have medical insurance.”
“That’s just something out of our control,” Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson stated of the unpredictability of the matter.
Despite some departments showing slight increases in the budget for the year, Fannin County is still in good standing overall by being four percent under budget with less than 20 percent of the fiscal year remaining.
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BLUE RIDGE, Ga.—Oct. 9 the Blue Ridge City Council gathered to approve the millage rate for 2018. The Blue Ridge City Council also adopted the 2019 fiscal year budget.
The millage rate has fluctuated over the last three years. In 2015 & 2016, the millage rate was 5.479 mills. In 2017, the millage was rate 5.362 mills and the rate for 2018, which will be applied to 2019 taxes, is 5.378 mills.
When is this tax due? Fannin County property owners will receive a receipt of tax notice in the mail. The amount owed will be due within a time period 60 days from the postmark on the bill.
Please note that if your payment is late, you can be charged an additional five percent, and if the balance is still not paid within 120 days there could be a charge up to 20 percent. Property owners should check their mail regularly in 2019.
The Blue Ridge City Council passed the 2019 fiscal year budget where the city is expecting to a receive $2,026,400.00 in tax payer dollars and a total revenue of $2,449,250.
The City of Blue Ridge will be allocating the complete revenue amount out to various expenditures: Mayor and Council, General Administration, Tax Administration & Licensing, Municipal Court, Police, Custody of Prisoners, Fire Fighting, Highways and Streets, Shop, Recreational Facilities, Parks Administration, Park Areas, Planning and Zoning, Downtown Development, and Special Facilities Rental.
Blue Ridge’s Confiscated Funds from Fines and Forfeitures will go toward the Police Department for a total of $1500.
The Hotel/Motel Fund revenue of $170,000 will go towards Downtown Development.
The SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) Fund revenue, a total of $746,500, will be applied to Highways & Streets and Downtown Development.
Lastly, the Water & Sewer Fund, a total of $5,643,500, will be divided into Sanitary Administrations, Sanitary Sewer Maintenance, Sewage Treatment Plant, Water Administration, GEFA Project, Water Treatment, Water Distribution, and Water Loss Prevention.
Council member Rhonda Haight made the motion that the Millage Rate be approved, and it was seconded by Council woman Robbie Cornelius.
Council member Nathan Fitz made the motion that the 2019 Fiscal Year Budget adoption be approved, and it was seconded by Haight.