It will require leaving open positions unfilled for awhile, and not filling some public safety jobs at all. But Gwinnett County officials were feeling a sense of accomplishment Tuesday when they adopted a balanced budget for 2012 that did not require dipping into reserve funds.
"The credit goes to the staff and officials throughout the county," said Charlotte Nash, chairman of the Board Of Commissioners, at the business meeting where the budget was passed.
Various department officials kept whittling away and prioritizing even after the proposed $1.32 billion budget was unveiled in November. At that time, officials projected using about $5 million in reserve funds.
But since then, officials identified savings that included:
- $1.6 million by holding job openings vacant for at least 90 days;
- $150,000 in reductions in contracts at the end of the 2011 budget;
- $500,000 in reserve items.
"It's a huge accomplishment," said District 1 Commissioner Shirley Lasseter, whose district includes Suwanee. "(Everyone) had to let go of something in their department so we could have a balanced budget."
Still, the budget is about 12 percent less than the current spending plan, in keeping with the continuing decline in the county's tax digest.
"We are hoping to see glimmers of economic hope along the way," Nash said.
Some allocations from the 2012 budget, according to county documents Tuesday:
- $838,800 for airport operations.
- $27.8 million for recreation.
- $7.7 million for transit operations.
- $41.7 million for solid waste operations.
- $53 million for administrative support (which includes human resources and IT).
Nash said that the balanced budget would have no effect on possible privatization efforts involving Briscoe Field. She explained that the county would not have received any benefits in 2012 from a privatized airport.
So far, no one has responded to the county's RFP for possible privatization. The deadline is Feb. 8.