Cherokee County residents will get their first glance at the county’s proposed 2022 budget Tuesday and have an opportunity to give their feedback on the spending plan at the county’s board of commissioners meeting at 6 p.m. at Cherokee Hall in Canton. The board will also review the proposal at a 3 p.m. work session Tuesday.
The county has proposed an overall 2022 budget of $340 million, an increase of 5.8 percent, or $18.5 million, over the 2021 spending plan.
The general fund, which pays for the county’s day-to-day operations, is slated to increase by 10.7 percent, with about 6 percent increases to the county’s fire, EMS, and parks and recreation budgets.
Cherokee’s 911 service, the Cherokee Area Transportation System and Senior Services are anticipated to see decreases in funding.
The county expects many of its revenue sources to increase over 2021 figures, including property tax revenue (up $6.9 million), motor vehicle taxes ($3.1 million) and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax income ($7.85 million).
The budget proposal also shows a $6.1 million transfer from the county’s impact fee funds — which are paid by developers for the cost of expanding infrastructure, facilities or services to serve new homes or business — to the county’s SPLOST coffers.
Cherokee has also budgeted for over 40 new positions with the county for an annual sum of $2.4 million.
The Cherokee Fire Department is set to add 12 new firefighter positions by next April. The Sheriff’s Office will also open a host of new employment opportunities with nine new jobs, including seven deputy sheriffs, a crime analyst and an open records coordinator.
The proposed 2022 spending plan also calls for six new EMS positions, three roles in court administration and two jobs in both IT and for the Tax Commissioner’s Office. The juvenile court, coroner’s office, Senior Services, property management department, parks department and District Attorney’s office are also proposed to add new positions.
Existing employees will receive a 4- to 5-percent cost of living adjustment under the proposed budget with a countywide $1.4 million increase in health care costs. The county’s presentation says an insurance fund increase of $1.5 million will be offset by revenues.
In July, county officials adopted a millage rate of 8.938 mills. A mill brings in $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value. In Georgia, property taxes are levied on 40 percent on a home’s appraised value. A home appraised at $300,000 would have a taxable value of $120,000.
The county adopted its total millage rate based on a general fund rate of 5.212 mills, 3.292 mills for its fire fund and a parks bond rate of 0.434 mills. The general fund and fire fund rates were retained from 2021 levels while the parks bond rate decreased from 0.461 mills.
The decrease to the parks bond levy could see homeowners paying a few dollars less in county taxes for 2022, but only if the appraised value of their home has not increased.
The county will present the proposed 2022 budget at the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners’ work session Tuesday beginning at 3 p.m. at Cherokee Hall, 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Canton. A public hearing, in which residents can publicly comment on the proposal, will take place during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m., also at Cherokee Hall.
Commissioners are also expected to hear an annexation request for 10.6 acres at 2527 and 2579 Hickory Road into Holly Springs to develop four residential lots and a proposal to purchase two custom fire engines for $1.1 million at the 6 p.m. meeting.
The board will also consider a $68,500 contract with Latimer Construction Co. for interior demolition of the county’s future elections office. The county purchased an existing building at 193 Lamar Haley Parkway in Canton last month to serve as the future office. County officials said the $1.575 million purchase will allow the office to have increased viewing areas, parking and storage, and will allow its warehouse to be housed in the same location.