Sarah Fay Campbell / The Newnan Times-Herald
Coweta County Administrator Michael Fouts summarizes the proposed county budget for 2022.
Coweta’s proposed 2022 budget includes significant additional public safety staff – and no tax hike.
The Coweta County Board of Commissioners passed a “rollback” property tax rate that will maintain the same property tax revenue as last year on existing properties. However, given the increase in other revenue streams, the county suggests adding several much-needed jobs.
A public hearing on the proposed budget took place last week. The budget is to be approved at the meeting on September 21st. There were no public statements at the hearing.
The district’s fiscal year 2022 begins on October 1st.
The budget proposal envisages the creation of 27 new jobs in the Coweta Fire Department and 24 positions, including two part-time positions, in the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. The new positions at the fire brigade are in addition to the previously vacant positions.
The district employees also recommend a new full-time position for several departments: finance, information technology, tax officer, tax commissioner, state court clerk, magistrate officer, corrections, environmental management, fleet maintenance, road maintenance, community development and the expansion office. Two new positions are proposed for the Facility Management department; two part-time positions are proposed in the library; four part-time positions are recommended for event services and one part-time position is recommended for the Coweta County Development Authority.
It is a significant – but long-needed – increase in public security staff in Coweta.
“It’s all the staff we’ve needed for several years,” said Sheriff Lenn Wood after the meeting. In 2020, due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 and its implications, Wood said he had not requested new staff and was trying to keep the proposed positions including patrol, investigators, court services, a prison guard and medical staff for the prison.
The current budget proposal does not include additional staff for the election and registration department, but the county staff is still working on it, said County Administrator Michael Fouts.
The county bought the old Carmike / AMC movie theater on Newnan Station Drive and most of the elections will be moved to this annex after the building is renovated. Fouts said the county staff are working to understand the department’s diverse needs. There will likely be a need for a budget change either later this year or early next year, he said.
The personnel inquiries amount to $ 2.67 million.
The district is also proposing a “fair market” increase of 3 percent for all employees and the restoration of performance-related pay increases for employees. In 2020, the county stopped issuing earnings increases over concerns about the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commissioner John Reidelbach asked about long-time employees who may have exceeded their salary bracket and how the county is handling it as the employees show their loyalty.
In 2016, the county made some adjustments to the pay scale to address this issue, Fouts said. There were also changes in 2017 and 2018 to increase longevity, address the pay cut, and general increases. In addition, the county passed a new pay scale in August that will increase the salary range, he said.
The county’s revenue from Local Option Sales Tax is up $ 4.4 million year over year, and the county is receiving an additional $ 2 million from Title Ad Valorem Tax on new vehicles. The county has added $ 1.6 million in property tax revenue from new growth and $ 800,000 in new revenue from building permit and development fees.
The proposed 2022 budget for all major funds is $ 131,467,527, up 11.69 percent from 2021. Part of that is the overall fund budget of $ 94,188,031, up 12.1 percent from 2021 has risen.
The budget includes an allocation for the 911 Center from the general fund. 911 centers are traditionally funded through charges on the phone bill. However, over the years, the cost of running the 911 system has grown higher than the revenue from those charges.
As the county creates the new jobs, in the current tight labor market, it will likely be difficult to find people to fill those positions and they could take some time to fill, Fouts said.
Budget documents can be viewed at https://www.coweta.ga.us/government/departments-fq/finance.