CONYERS -- After months of hiring freezes, spending cuts, unfilled positions and the promise of a property tax increase, the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved the county's 2010 General Fund budget.
The vote was 2-1, with Commissioner JaNice Van Ness voting against the budget as it was proposed, which she promised she would do during a Monday work session.
The 2010 county budget is $55.43 million and includes $2.4 million in spending reductions from a general hiring freeze and several positions to be left open but unfunded.
The new budget also includes a promised increase in the county's millage rate, anywhere from .66 to 1 mill.
The Board of Commissioners passed a balanced budget, but there were disagreements remaining.
Van Ness said a lot of work had gone into the budget but explained her vote against approval was because she felt more work could have been done to cut costs.
She requested that the Finance Department produce monthly reports on revenue streams and balance sheets to keep closer track of the budget. Also, she thought that either monthly or quarterly personnel adjustments should be followed and that the human resources department should move more aggressively on offering voluntary retirements.
Commissioner Oz Nesbitt acknowledged the tough decisions the commissioners made in reducing funding to nonprofit groups. He then turned his attention to county department and division heads to look hard at employee production.
"This is no place to be hosting slackers inside Rockdale County government, and we can't have non-essential operations on a tight budget," he said. "No one likes to work with someone who is not pulling their fair share of the weight."
Nesbitt mentioned he still felt his proposal to get rid of 34 part-time positions would have saved money without significantly affecting county services. In the end, Nesbitt's proposal did not make it into the final budget.
In voting for the budget, Nesbitt said he was looking forward to next year. He also thanked those who had spoken at the meetings, many who have spoken against the budget because it would increase taxes.
"There has been a host of characters who have spoken during the process who would have you believe the sky is falling. Well, the sky is not falling," he said.
An earlier proposal had seven unpaid holidays for county employees, but those paid holidays were put back into the budget. Finance Director Roselyn Miller said at the time the unpaid holidays were an unfair burden placed on the county's approximately 600 employees and that it did not change the need to have a millage increase.