Bulloch County commissioners are preparing to approve the fiscal year 2020 budget following a second public hearing during the upcoming commission meeting on Tuesday.
While the general millage rate will remain unchanged, the county will discuss a proposal to raise the millage rate for the rural fire district, which excludes the city of Statesboro and its surrounding five-mile district, which are taxed separately.
The hearing will be at the beginning of the meeting at 8:30 a.m. at the Bulloch County Annex.
Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson said the millage rate proposal would increase the rural fire district’s millage rate by 1.97 mils, which would replace the current fire protection fee, $76 for businesses and $54 for residences.
The move would increase revenue to be used for fire protection improvements (hiring 12 full-time professional firefighters and adding equipment) and would lower rural citizens’ Insurance Services Office, or ISO, ratings, he said.
Commissioners and Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch propose a budget of $41,831,092, compared to a projected expenditure in FY 2019 of $40,909,745, which was over the proposed 2019 budget of $40,379,041.
Most county departments will see an increase in budgeted funds if the proposal is approved. Many departments went over budget, while some spent less than expected.
The budget may be viewed in detail at the Bulloch County Annex.
The proposed budget allows county commissioners an increase of $180,189, up from projected 2019 expenses of $172,214. County manager expenditures proposed for 2020 are $476,486, while projected 2019 expenditures were $376,333 and over budgeted funds by about $4,800.
The clerk of the board is proposed to have a budget of $155,192. That department was under the 2019 budget, spending $125,443 of a proposed $135,339.
The elections department, budgeted for $298,378 for FY 2020, went over the 2019 budget ($252,299), spending $310,213, according to county figures.
The tax commissioner’s office spent less than its 2019 budget ($694,174 spent; $755,637 budgeted), and the county proposed a FY 2020 budget of $801,175.
The tax assessor’s office is proposed to have a budget of $827,971, increasing from $770,889 spent last year, which was over budgeted funds.
The proposed FY 2020 budget will provide Superior Court judges with $320,525, an increase from FY 2019. The department spent less than budgeted last year.
The clerk of courts office was also under budget last year, but has a proposed budget increase to $967,403 in 2020.
The district attorney’s office is proposed to receive $463,500, an increase over the budget of $450,000 in 2019, which it met. The county proposed to fund the State Court with $302,023. The state court spent under budget last year. So did the state court solicitor’s office, which is proposed to have a 2020 budget of $327,700.
Magistrate Court was over its 2019 budget by less than $2,000, and is proposed to receive $804,877 in 2020. The Probate Court, under budget last year, is expected to receive $362,688.
Indigent defense, over budget last year, is listed to receive $437,100.
Sheriff, jail, investigations
The Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office (excluding criminal investigations, crime suppression and jail) was slightly under budget in 2019. The budgeted amount last year was $4,316,015, but that department spent only $4,264,601. For FY 2020, the department is budgeted $4,634,592.
Criminal investigations also came in under budgeted expenses, only spending a projected $565,494 of a 2019 budget of $591,824. This department is expected to receive a budget increase in 2020 to $597,989.
The crime suppression unit, also under budget last year, is proposed to be budgeted $884,571 in 2020.
The jail division was overbudget last year, spending a projected $4,984,532 while budgeted only $4,530,670 in 2019. The 2020 budget proposal for the jail is $4,879,532.
Court services were also over budget, spending a projected $1,174,089 while having had a budget of $1,074,362. The court services division is budgeted $1,150,009 for 2020.
The correctional institute was under budget, and should expect a 2020 budget of $1,922, 853.
The public safety administration, under budget last year, is proposed to receive $282,046 in FY 2020. The finance department, over its 2019 budget last year, is slated for a FY 2020 budget of $717,688.
Other departments that spent less than their budgeted amounts in 2019 include county attorneys (budgeted $204,099 in 2020), human resources ($222,676 for FY 2020), GIS ($203,541 for 2020), government buildings (expected to receive a budget of $924,135), animal control (to receive $207,309) and the animal shelter (proposed 2020 budget of $355,762).
The county engineering department, which went over budget in 2019, is expected to have a 2020 budget of $155,904.
Bulloch County EMS, also over its budget last year, will see an increase to $2,670,418. The coroner’s office went over the 2019 budget as well, and will see a proposed increase to $99,370.
The roads department, also over its budget last year, is slated for a 2020 budget of $3,009,540. Solid waste spent more than expected last year as well, and will be seeing a budgeted $2,569, 878.
Recreation department divisions were all under budget last year. The FY 2020 proposed budget amounts for these departments are as follows: administration ($651,977), athletics ($841,094), concessions ($146,088) and facility operations ($519,523).
The agricultural arena complex went over budget in 2019. The projected expenditures for that year are $687,809, and the amount budgeted for FY 2020 is $453,068. The arena portion of the complex was an expense last year, but most of the cost was covered by a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, earmarked by voters for that purpose.
Additional details regarding the proposed 2020 general fund budget, projected expenditures for 2019 and other county budget figures are available for viewing at the Bulloch County Annex.
Residents who would like to comment on the budget during the public hearing are asked to sign up to speak at the meeting.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.