CONYERS - The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners released its proposed 2021 budget on Sunday, Nov. 1. The proposed general fund budget of $79,857,211 is a 9.4% increase over the current budget of $75,382,901, and an increase of $4,474,310.
In a press release, the BOC stated the county was able to deliver a balanced budget, or a budget that does not borrow from the county’s fund balance and remained in decent financial strength in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BOC credited the team comprised of executive leadership and the county’s financial consultant, Terminus, whose conservative budget streamlined operations and helped restructure and re-organize the county with the help of the BOC.
“In the midst of the pandemic to still be able to deliver a conservative budget is credit to our ‘all hands on deck’ approach,” Chairman Oz Nesbitt Sr. said. “This was truly a group effort between the office of the chairman, the board of directors, and executive staff. The BOC listened to the citizens as it related to the millage rate, and the board has responded accordingly by delivering a conservative budget.”
In August, following concerns from numerous citizens about the need not to raise taxes during the pandemic, the BOC voted unanimously to accept the rollback rate of 18.016 mills and keep the Homestead Option Sales Tax exemption at 70%, both the same as last year, which reduced revenue collections by about $3 million. The county was expected to go into its reserve funds to make up the difference.
With the proposed 2021 budget being $4.4 million greater than the current budget, it is expected that the county will again need to try to increase the tax millage rate and decrease the HOST exemption in the fall of 2021 to cover the proposed budget.
As with the majority of the county's budgets, salaries and benefits make up the majority of the proposed expenditures at 68% of the budget. Rockdale County began using a compensation model for increases developed last year by the Talent Management Department.
The largest increase in salaries and benefits comes from the Sheriff's Office, which has the most number of employees in the county. The Sheriff's Office will see an increase of $3 million. Other departments with large increases include the Recreation Department with an increase of $707,293, and the Board of Commissioners Office with an increase of $484,568.
The BOC will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget on Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 6 p.m. in the county auditorium, 903 North Main St. in Conyers, and virtually.
The first reading of the 2021 Appropriations Ordinance will be held at the Board of Commissioners' regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 10 a.m. in the county auditorium and virtually, and will have the second reading and adoption of the 2021 Appropriations Ordinance at the regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. in the county auditorium and virtually.