Work begins on the Pickens County Courthouse. Last Friday, Dec. 16 workers were seen staging the building with scaffolding before removing the marble slabs.
Just after his regularly scheduled meeting, Pickens County Commissioner Rob Jones held a public hearing for the proposed 2012 budget.
No members of the public attended the Thursday, Dec. 15 hearing, but Pickens County’s Finance Officer Mechelle Champion was on hand to discuss changes in the figures over last year.
The total proposed budget for 2012 is $19,313,000 on the revenue side, down about $2.5 million from the $21.8 million budget in 2011.
“The majority of the decrease is coming from the community center,” Champion said. “We won’t be building a community center in 2012.”
The Pickens County Community Center was budgeted at $2.6 million in the 2011 budget. The county took out a $3 million loan from the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia to pay for the center, but has said it will ultimately be paid for using revenue from SPLOST collections.
In the 2008 SPLOST, voters approved $3 million for recreational purposes.
On the expenditures side for the 2012 budget, Champion said, “We tried to hold every department to a one percent increase.” She went on to note that Public Safety saw an increase of two percent due to increased traffic in the courts.
Champion also said Elections also saw a sizable increase in their budget, up $92,600, or 53 percent, but that the increase was due to the upcoming 2012 election cycle.
“We are on a four year election cycle and this being election year they have to have more budget this year,” Champion said.
According to Champion, the magistrate office saw a decrease in their budget following the retirement of Pickens County Magistrate Judge Larry Ray, while the Superior Court’s budget is increasing because of grants it will receive.
The Public Defender’s office saw a decrease in $65,000 following regional changes made in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, which includes Pickens, Fannin and Gilmer counties.
The budget for roads is proposed to decrease five percent, or $78,000.
Barring the 2011 budget of $21.6 million, which again, included $3 million for the community center, the county has maintained a $19 million budget for several years.
“Due to the economic circumstances we are trying to hold the budget,” Champion said. “This is based on sales tax revenues from this year. Based on the tax digest we’re tying to hold the millage rate to be consistent with what we had this year, so if the tax digest holds then our millage rate should hold. We are trying to be conservative and cut back as much as we can.”
You can view the proposed 2012 budget at www.pickenscountyga.gov or in Champion’s office between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The budget will be approved Dec. 29th, at 9 a.m. at the Pickens County Administrative Building.
Courthouse renovations moving along
Workers with Crystal Marble Company out of Cumming were seen setting up scaffolding in front of the Pickens County Courthouse late last week, staging the building for removal and restoration of the marble slabs on the facade.
The marble will be removed and taken to a local marble plant for polishing and restoration. The slabs will then be reattached to the building.
At his regular commissioner’s meeting, Jones also signed a proposal from Multivista Construction Documentation for $25,670 for the photographic documentation of the construction process.
“A lot of counties are doing it now with these bigger projects,” Jones said. “This company will come in and take photographic documentation of the structure as it sits today and as it goes through its phases of construction. This way, if there are any questions asked in the future everything is documented on photograph.”
Jones noted that the county has received a $400,000 federal Transportation Enhancement Project grant that will go towards paying for the Court Street extension. This extension will lead from the Pickens County Courthouse to the new courthouse parking facility behind the Piggly Wiggly on Burnt Mountain Road.
The grant will pay for the sidewalk, road extension and lighting along the sidewalk.
Other news from the commissioner’s meeting
•Donny Holmes was reappointed to the Pickens County Board of Health for a six-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2012 and ending Dec., 31, 2017.
• Property on Ellijay Road composed of 1.19 acres was rezoned from rural residential to highway business. Conditional use of that parcel and another parcel on Ellijay Road was granted to allow for the operation of a distribution warehouse.