FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The Forsyth County Commission has set Nov. 5 for adoption of the 2021 budget, a plan that calls for increased spending of a little more than 1 percent from the current year.
At the commission’s Oct. 13 work session, Chief Financial Officer David Greun said there remains uncertainty in the economy, but the county is proposing a balanced budget to carry out day-to-day operations.
The new budget calls for expenditures of $151.8 million in the general fund, and it includes adding 30 positions and adding five outdoor weather sirens.
While sales tax collections are expected to decline 5 percent due to the sluggish economy, Greun said he is “highly confident” with the current level of collections, the county should “be in good shape” next year.
Fueling that optimism is an expected increase in property tax revenues that should more than offset the predicted decline in sales taxes.
County cedes Athens Park land
In other matters discussed at the work session, commissioners agreed for the county to give up its stake in Athens Park along Lake Lanier in the northeast portion of the county. Commissioners said the site is more of a liability than an asset. The county had maintained a license for the undeveloped park stemming from a years-long legal battle between Forsyth County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the YMCA over the development of Bethel Park.
In a settlement stemming from the litigation, the Corps of Engineers extended lease options to the county for several Corps properties in Forsyth County, provided the county develop master plans for the parks.
Athens Park was included in the county’s selections, but officials and staff have struck out on ways to develop the park, and it is not viable for use by the Forsyth Fire Department or Sheriff’s Office.
Commission Chairwoman Laura Semanson suggested there have been illegal activities at the park, and calls and complaints are fielded by the county, a point seconded by Parks and Recreation Director Jim Pryor.
“Every time there is a problem at Athens Park we get called, and it’s not really our property,” Pryor said. “If we are not going to do anything with it, let’s just turn it back over to [the Corps of Engineers].”
Social Services Committee to dissolve
Forsyth County’s Social Services Committee, which has handled grant funding for local nonprofits benefitting the Forsyth County Juvenile Court for the last decade, will be dissolved following changes to the way the court is funded.
The committee, which includes county commissioners Cindy Jones Mills and Molly Cooper, Ruth Goode of United Way, Sarah Pedarre of Community Connection and Katie Newman, Forsyth County’s Mental Health Services coordinator, has essentially been deemed redundant.
County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the county has moved away from grant-based funding to a capped, invoice-based system managed by the county’s court, and upfront vetting of outside nonprofits by the Social Services Committee is now an unnecessary process.