Cluster leaders present budget requests to board

Pie chart of Henry County budget expenditures (Henry County photo)
Public Safety accounts for over half of the county’s annual expenditures. (Henry County photo)

Commissioners heard from department cluster leaders on Monday morning about their FY 2021 budget requests. The meeting was one in a series of budget workshops being held by the county.

The budget workshops are happening after commissioners requested to be more involved in developing the county budget. The BOC will hold a second workshop session this week on Tuesday morning at 9 am to hear from constitutional and elected officials.

The county management team will present their final recommendations for the FY 2021 budget in late March. Public hearings will be held in April and the board is scheduled to consider adopting the budget on April 21.

Roadwork continues to be a major topic

The Henry County DOT annual budget equals $9,008,638 with no increase proposed in FY 2021. This includes $2.9 million in DOT administration and $6.2 million in DOT right of way maintenance.

When it was mentioned that no change is proposed for next year, Commissioner Wilson was the first to speak up asking staff the plan to repair roadways. The heavy rains this winter have caused additional potholes and road damage that DOT has not yet had a chance to repair.

County manager Cheri Hobson-Matthews commented the county depends on either SPLOST or LMIG funding to resurface roads. Last week, commissioners suggested two possible options to provide additional funds for resurfacing—bonding millions for roadwork, raising the possibility for a millage rate increase, or asking voters for a transportation SPLOST raising the local sales tax.

Moving Henry Forward is asking residents their impression about Henry County considering a transportation SPLOST. Be sure and participate in our survey.

DOT is budgeted a total of eighty-three positions, but it was shared on Monday morning there are twenty-one vacancies. Henry County plans on using the salary savings from vacant positions to help provide additional immediate funding towards road maintenance.

Staff for new fire stations represent largest request in Public Safety

The SPLOST V program, approved by voters in November 2019, includes funds to construct two new fire stations. The stations will be located in Ola, near SR 81 at Snapping Shoals Road, and Flippen, near Jodeco Road at Peach Drive.

Assistant county manager Brad Johnson presented the staffing requirements for when the new stations are built. This includes twenty-one firefighters / paramedics, three new lieutenants, three new captains, three new battalion chiefs, and other positions. The new positions may be delayed until FY 2022 depending on the schedule to construct the stations.

Code Enforcement is requesting three additional code enforcement officers and an increase in funding to handle abatements. It was also mentioned that weekend hours are being considered to better respond to calls.

No new positions are proposed in the police department after commissioners approved twenty new officers in FY 2020. The police department is actively recruiting to fill the positions. Likewise, no positions are requested in E-911 after six call takers were added this year.