Commissioners unanimously voted to approve the budget at Tuesday’s commission meeting.
The commission originally presented a $193 million budget for 2013, which was seen by county residents at public hearings. Through delays to capital projects, the commission cut the budget by nearly $4 million before approving it.
“It’s a very rational approach to the budgeting process,” County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said. “We didn’t cancel anything. We postponed the timing of some things and put them into the next fiscal year.”
Projects postponed until the 2014 fiscal year include the building of a library in the Macedonia community and road work.
The 2013 budget calls for $400,000 less in spending than the 2012 budget. Cherokee County Chief Financial Officer Janelle Funk said the county also expects to be reimbursed for Commerce Boulevard improvements, bringing total expenditures down by an additional $6.6 million on top of the $0.4 million difference.
The county’s operating costs are set to decrease $1.7 million, for a 1.5 percent change.
Parks and Recreation will see a 22 percent increase in expenditures associated with the opening of the county’s aquatic center off Sixes Road, scheduled to open in spring 2013. Funk said the aquatic center is projected to generate enough revenue to pay for those expenses.
The 2013 general fund budget comes in at $56.4 million. Funk said the county has trimmed its general fund budget by $4.4 million since 2008 after adjusting for changes such as pension contributions and departments that are now funded otherwise.
“The biggest driver of this is related to changes in positions,” she said.
Since 2008, the county has eliminated 19 full-time jobs and has added 10 part-time jobs.
About $39 million of the general fund budget is allocated to public safety and courts, representing about 70 percent of general fund spending.
The county’s general fund pays for 385 staff members in the sheriff’s office, 136 in judicial services, 56 in tax administration and 50 employees in other county areas.
“In public hearings, some of the comments expressed wanting to avoid impacting public safety,” Funk said.
For the third year, the county is utilizing a $1.9 million pension credit. Funk said the county contributed above the minimum required amount to fund retirement liabilities in years when the county had a more robust budget. The county’s third party pension administrator is allowing the county to use credit from these excess contributions instead of contributing in cash.
Funk said it is unlikely that the county will be able to utilize the credit for a fourth year in 2014.
A total of $2.1 million is being moved into the general fund from SPLOST to reimburse for previously purchased assets.
Funk added that expected revenues for the county are in line with the expenditures.
“I don’t feel there’s a major risk in not achieving our budget next year. We have discussed the risk with the $600,000 reduction to the recycling center,” she said.
Commissioners approved transferring $600,000 to the Resource Recovery Development Authority. When budget talks began, this figure was set at $1.2 million.
Ahrens said the commission based the reduction on the possibility of a new operator coming to the recycling center during the fiscal year. He said the commission may need to revisit this line item during the year.
“That’s the most unknown figure in the whole $190 million,” he said.
The 2013 fiscal year began Oct. 1 and will end Sept. 30, 2013.