After Flowery Branch increased taxes, followed by the Hall County School Board increasing taxes, the Hall County Commission eked out a narrow 3-2 vote to hold the line. So with this victory, you would think that there would have been some decreased spending with this rollback…. If you think they spent less, you would be wrong.
There is a law, O.C.G.A. §36-30-3, used in the cities that prohibits one council from binding another. It is almost too bad that law doesn’t apply to the county commission because if it did, you can argue that the commission made budget decisions this year that will almost force them to raise taxes next year. The main issue being that the 24 new employees were only funded for a partial year. That means that next year these employees would be in the baseline at the full amount. This means that any new spending will most likely result in the need for additional tax revenue. We are now looking at the edge of the cliff….again.
Interesting: the Chairman voted against the millage rates for the fire department without stating a reason. Even more interesting: the Chairman and Commissioner Cooper voted against the budget when I assume they had input into the budget.
Overall, if your home or business was reassessed the past couple of years, you are paying more in taxes. The real issue is spending. If you look at the bar graph, you will see that overall spending in Hall County is up 14% over the past 5 budgets. What really stands out is the piece that no one talks about: fire. Fire is the 3rd rail in local politics:
Fire: up 35%
Flowery Branch: up 25%
Schools: up 14%
Hall County Government: up 9%
There are two main reasons for the jump in fire: 1- the county opened a new fire station and 2- the county moved EMS (Ambulance) out of the general fund into the fire fund. While the transfer helps to make the 9% growth for Hall County look good, it also puts more money into the area that no one wants to talk about: fire fund.
While we should be happy that one of our governments held the line on taxes, we need to be more concerned about the spending because this will lead to future tax increases.