Butts County cities weighing 2012 budgets

Each of Butts County’s three cities is expected to adopt budgets by the end of the year, with each sticking fairly close to their spending plans for 2011 and each not expected to impose city property taxes.

The City of Jenkinsburg’s proposed 2012 budget was given its first airing during a public hearing at the City Council’s meeting Monday night, and is expected to be adopted on Dec. 12. The proposal calls for total expenses of $316,365 with one of the largest budgetary changes coming with the creation of a city municipal court.

Officials in Jenkinsburg decided earlier this year to recreate a court to handle code enforcement matters, and reached an agreement with the City of Jackson to use Jackson’s court facilities, judge and court clerk on a contract basis.

The court is budgeted to cost Jenkinsburg $2,700 in 2012. The city’s fiscal year, like those of Flovilla and Jackson, is concurrent with the calendar year.

Jenkinsburg’s main source of revenue is the 1 percent Local Option Sales Tax, which city officials anticipate will bring in $119,000 in 2012. Other revenue sources include alcohol taxes and Georgia Power franchise taxes.

The Local Option Sales Tax, which is agreed upon by government bodies within a given county, is scheduled to be renegotiated by the end of next year. According to a Georgia Municipal Association guidebook on LOST, governments in the counties where the tax is imposed must notify the commissioner of the Department of Revenue that renegotiations have begun by July 1, 2012. While LOST can be renegotiated at any time, the decennial census automatically triggers the expiration of intergovernmental LOST agreements at the end of the second year after the census is taken.

Flovilla Mayor Harvey Norris said his city’s budget for 2012, which is expected to be adopted Dec. 19, estimates Flovilla can expect the same amount of LOST revenue, though the figure is subject to change depending on how negotiations proceed. Each of the three cities in the county will have a new mayor at the helm next year.

“It doesn’t make sense to do anything else with things being uncertain,” Norris said.

Flovilla’s roughly $370,000 budget estimates pulling in $200,000 in LOST revenue.

The county seat of Jackson estimates pulling in $1 million in LOST revenue for 2012, according to City Clerk Lara Brewer.

Jackson’s preliminary budget proposal is for expenditures of $8.8 million for 2012. Mayor Wayne Phillips said the city expects next year to have to impose higher electricity rates to offset cost increases the city expects to face, but the new rates have not yet been worked out. He noted the city absorbed a cost increase in 2011, but would no longer be able to do so.

“We’re going to keep it [the increase] to a minimum ... But there’s no way for us to eat it,” he said.