WGTC request falls on deaf earsBy SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Representatives from West Georgia Technical College again made a plea to the Coweta County Commissioners for inclusion of supplemental funding for the college's Coweta campus in the county's budget.
Mark Whitlock and Malcolm Jackson of the WGTC foundation board, and WGTC President Skip Sullivan spoke during a public hearing on Coweta's Fiscal Year 2013 budget.
It's at least the fourth time that WGTC representatives have asked the commissioners to put some support for the local campus in the budget — with no success.
This year, the college had requested a $100,000 allotment in the budget, for 10 years. Last year, the request had been for $200,000 a year, for 10 years.
In July of 2009, college representatives had asked for a future commitment of $100,000 for adult education.
A Coweta campus is currently under construction off Turkey Creek Road. Two buildings are currently under construction, and plans are for classes to begin in the fall of 2013.
The WGTC Foundation raised $8 million for the campus, and the state of Georgia kicked in another $8 million.
The college is making a major investment in Coweta "at a time when our state appropriations" are way down, Sullivan said. State funding for the college is down 30 to 40 percent in the past five years, he said. "Our employees haven't had a raise in five years," he said. But "we feel very passionate about the fact that we need a technical college" campus in Coweta.
"We provide a trained work force that companies need," Sullivan said. One of the buildings is for "allied health" education. The need for trained health professionals is great, Sullivan said, and the college is partnering with local medical agencies.
"Help us continue to build this campus out here, and support what we feel is a good investment on the part of the college," Sullivan said to the commissioners.
There were no comments from the commissioners regarding the WGTC funding request.
Before the WGTC representatives spoke, Coweta Finance Director Hans Wilson presented the FY 2013 budget.
He's proposed a balanced budget of $59,845,850. That's a 2.1 percent increase over this year's budget.
FY 2013 begins Oct. 1.
"We believe this is a fairly conservative budget," WIlson said.
The 2.1 percent increase in projected revenues "is really tremendous in light of the fact that our property tax digest declined approximately 3 percent," he said.
The property tax digest is the total value of taxable property in the county.
Some of that decline was able to be made up with an increase in the Local Option Sales Tax revenues. LOST revenues are up about 2.9 percent, Wilson said. The insurance premium tax is also up, about $300,000, for a total of $3.6 million.
Property tax, LOST, and the insurance premium tax, together, account for approximately 70 percent of total county revenues.
License and permit revenues are expected to increase roughly 11.3 percent, and fines, forfeitures and fees are expected to be up roughly 4 percent.
Recreation revenues are projected to decrease 9 percent, primarily due to lower than expected user fees.
In addition to general fund revenues and expenses, several revenue streams are for special, separate funds.
The hotel/motel tax is down, roughly 18 percent, Wilson said. And 911 revenues have been down over the years because of the reduction in land lines. Solid waste revenues are expected to be down roughly 7 percent, due to reduced bag sales and transfer station revenues.
Capital fund expenditures are budgeted at $2,874,442. Most of that — $2,145,203, is coming from the county's "fund balance."
"That is a lot more than the prior year," WIlson said. A main reason for that is that the county has "some large ticket items in there that we have to address, such as the county morgue and some other needed projects."
The Coweta County Fire Department will be using $1.1 million from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for replacement equipment, station refurbishment, and a new pumper engine, and there will be a new fire station and maintenance facility paid for out of the fire bond.
The operations of the fire department are paid for out of the fire fund, which is funded with the 2.5 mill fire district tax. The 2.5 mills is no longer enough to cover the day-to-day operations of the fire department, so money is having to be transferred from the fire fund fund balance, Wilson said.
The proposed transfer from the fund balance is $1.7 million for FY 2013.
In FY 2012, a $2.4 million transfer was budgeted. However, only $1.9 million was needed, Wilson said.
As FY 2012 winds to a close, Wilson said he is expecting the county to end up with a surplus of roughly $1 million, that can be added to the county's general fund fund balance.