Henry County government has announced that four current positions will not be funded in next year’s budget.
The eliminated jobs include two in Henry’s Department of Transportation, one in Facilities Maintenance, and one with Parks & Recreation, according to county spokesperson Julie Hoover-Ernst.
She acknowledged that the subject of funding for Henry’s police and fire departments, has generated debate in recent months, in connection with the county budget. However, Hoover-Ernst said no public-safety positions are being eliminated.
The Board of Commissioners adopted a General Fund Budget of $115,566,262, during a recent special called meeting.
This amount reflects for revenues of just $105,426,718, which is down from $112,452,443 last year, and down more than $17 million since the high in 2009, said Hoover-Ernst.
She said reductions in home values “have so diminished the value of a mil in Henry County that 1 mil was worth $6,776,901 in revenue for Henry County in 2008, but that same mil is worth just $4,100,000 today.”
“This year alone, Henry County is facing another 17.89-percent reduction in its residential tax digest, a 6.12-percent reduction in its commercial property digest, and 7.17-percent decrease in its industrial digest,” Hoover-Ernst said. “The combined effect of these decreases amounts to a $7.3 million reduction in tax revenues for the County.”
Hoover-Ernst added that operational cuts are necessary across all departments in the local government during the coming fiscal year. The county has 1,532 salaried employees, and the existing millage rate is 11.75 mills.
“We have reached a point that we are no longer trimming fat. We have cut to the bone,” said County Manager Fred Auletta, recently. “The Finance Department has worked tirelessly for months to ensure that no stone was left unturned. Much appreciation should be given to the work of every department to find ways they could cut, without sacrificing service-delivery levels. That was our priority, and I believe we have achieved it.”
Hoover-Ernst added that Henry County has “tightened its belt” through operational cuts across all departments, totaling about $4.1 million.
“For example, many departments have elected to eliminate cleaning services for their buildings, for a total savings of more than $102,000, and technology changes have also enabled the county to save about $200,000,” she said. “Contributions to outside agencies, such as Helping In His Name Food Pantry and Haven House, were completely eliminated this year, for a savings of $113,475. ... And according to the adopted budget, all employees who are also going into their fifth year with no cost-of-living pay adjustments, will have four furlough days for the third year in a row.”
District commissioners’ pay will be reduced from $43,939.36, to $35,000, each, and the commission chairman’s pay will be reduced by five percent, from $57,785.81 to $54,752.
The changes will take effect Jan. 1, 2013, for commissioners in Districts I, II, and III, as well the chairman, Henry Finance Director Mike Bush said last month.
“Two years from that — Jan. 1, 2015 — it takes effect for District IV and District V,” he said.
The reductions will not have an impact on the 2012 budget, and will be reflected in half of next year’s budget. Bush, in May, said there is no way, from a legal standpoint, to make the changes effective immediately.
For more information, visit www.henrycounty-ga.org/finance.