Additional sheriff’s office employees to staff the new jail and a 4% pay increase for all county workers were among the items approved in the 2020 county government budget earlier this month.
The Paulding County Board of Commissioners recently approved a $196.4 million budget for 2020 that is 4% larger than the 2019 budget of $187 million.
Commissioners also approved a property tax rate of 6.079 mills for the maintenance and operations property tax, which is unchanged from 2019. The M&O rate funds most of the budget.
The budget covers parts of the county government other than the Paulding County School District.
County Commissioner Sandy Kaecher said she was “very satisfied” with the budget’s final version after working with Finance Director Tabitha Pollard and department heads to reduce a June 1 budget amount Chairman Dave Carmichael submitted.
“We all worked very hard to get this budget down,” Kaecher said.
Commissioner Ron Davis opposed the M&O rate but voted to approve the overall budget.
“I pored over this budget and a lot of hard work went into this budget,” he told commissioners before its approval Aug. 13.
“At this millage rate, I don’t believe the budget … is bloated or is unnecessarily out-of-control spending, like a lot of times you hear critics talk about government spending.
“The county’s growing, so I understand why (spending) is growing from last year,” Davis said.
The approved budget includes 45 new employees and a 4% pay increase for the county government’s current 880 employees, Pollard said.
However, the timing of the pay increase is still under discussion, she said.
Though the approved tax rate was unchanged from 2019, state law defined it as a tax increase after an increase in property values produced 7% more revenue than the previous year at the same rate.
The state requires local governments setting a property tax to calculate the rollback rate that will produce the same amount of revenue as the previous year based on the current tax digest. The Paulding budget rollback rate was 5.653 mills.
Paulding’s tax digest — the total assessed value of all taxable property — this year was 9% higher than the previous year after the county’s overall property assessments increased for the seventh consecutive year, according to a history of the annual calculation.
Commissioners also voted to keep a separate Voter Approved Fire Tax rate unchanged from 2019 at 3.1 mills. The tax generates money to operate the county fire department.
But commissioners voted to increase the Bond and Interest property tax rate used to generate money to pay off the county’s bond debt.
The rate increased from 2.07 to 2.20 mills because the county has begun paying off the debt from the bond issue voters approved in 2016 to pay for construction of the new county jail and sheriff’s office headquarters.
The facility is set for an early 2020 opening adjacent to the county courthouse and government complex in Dallas. It will include a 660-bed, 133,000-square-foot jail; and a 58,000-square-foot administration building for the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office.
More than one of every three new employees in the budget will be used to staff the new jail, the budget document stated.
Kaecher said commissioners received an early draft of the budget in the spring before Carmichael released his spending plan.
“When we received the initial draft of the budget, which is made up of wants and needs from each department, we had a public workshop to see what the citizens would cut,” she said.
“I asked Chairman Carmichael if I could get meetings set up with each department head to discuss their needs,” Kaecher said.
“He and I sat with each of them and were able to make a lot of cuts that way,” she said. “The department heads were very understanding and helpful.”
“We had several public hearings and again asked the citizens for input,” she said.
At the urging of commissioners, Pollard worked with department heads to make almost $9 million in cuts to the Carmichael’s budget, she said.
Pollard said she included staggered hiring dates for the 45 new employees and reduced the pay raise from 5% to 4%, among other actions, to decrease the final budget by $8.8 million from the chairman’s budget.
The cuts allowed Pollard to lower the M&O property tax rate to 6.079 in the final budget from the 6.50 mills proposed in Carmichael’s budget.
For more information on the budget, visit www.paulding.gov/DocumentCenter/View/8958/Aug-5-Revision.