A restructuring of some Columbia County government departments will shift how some employees are funded.
Approved during Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, the restructuring is “pretty significant,” said County Administrator Scott Johnson.
The plan realigns the administrator’s office and Development Services division, and divides the Construction and Maintenance Division into separate Engineering, Roads and Bridges and Facilities Maintenance divisions.
The changes “streamline” the duties of those divisions and shifts their funding in some cases from the county’s tax-supported general fund to enterprise funds such as stormwater and building standards.
“It’s not as much about the money as it is about the efficiency,” Johnson said.
Overall, the changes increase staffing and funding for storm water and water utility, while decreasing expenses for building standards, SPLOST and the general fund.
The revisions were approved shortly after commissioners passed a balanced budget for next year, with no tax increase and no pay raises as yet for employees.
Based on anticipated revenues of just more than $57 million, the $56 million budget shows a surplus of just more than $1 million – but that could change as the county’s tax digest is finalized.
“It’s a slight increase over last year’s budget,” Johnson aid. “The digest is a slight increase over last year’s budget. We’ve worked very hard this year to make sure we were very conservative on our revenues as well as our expenditures.”
Tax officials Tuesday said the county’s budgets, including the recently approved school system budget with a 1-mill tax increase, are based on anticipated growth of 1.5 percent in the overall value of taxable property in the county.
That likely will decline slightly, however, as taxpayers appeal their assessments, said Columbia County Chief Appraiser Debbie Robertson.
“It was pretty challenging in the beginning,” Johnson said. “But we feel very good about the budget being presented tonight for next year, with no tax increase.”
Officials won’t discuss any raises for county employees until sometime after the tax digest is finalized, they said.
“We have not taken up any consideration of merit raises,” said Commission Chairman Ron Cross. “That will be done later on in the year.”