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County budget proposal calls for cuts

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Chairwoman Charlotte Nash has trimmed a $35 million budget gap for 2012 to about $5 million, about six weeks before commissioners consider adopting the spending plan.

The proposed 2012 spending plan for Gwinnett's government, which was released Tuesday, does little to county services, although the county's police and fire department will wait another year before filling 25 vacancies each.

Nash hopes to cut the remaining $5 million before the board considers the budget at its Jan. 3 meeting.

But with foreclosures still rampant and a precarious world economy with the impending economic collapses in Italy and Greece, next year's tax-increase-free proposal could be the last before drastic changes come, officials said.

"We've got a little bit of breathing room, an oasis," Nash said of the proposed budget, where many departments were able to find their own ways to trim spending.

In 2012, officials project another 8 percent drop, or $24 million, in revenues, mostly due to a continued fall in the value of homes and businesses. Leaders had initially thought the poor economy would bottom out in 2012, and revenues would begin to increase, but current events show that may not be the case.

"The low-hanging fruit has definitely been picked," said Laurie McClain, a certified public accountant who served on a citizens board reviewing the budget proposal. "We did all that we can do."

"We've obviously got some very tough years to come," added another panelist, David Crews, the former chief financial officer of the local school system.

Maria Woods, the county's finance director, said some of the 2012 spending proposals cannot be continued, including zeroing out an annual contribution to capital projects.

With no pay raises, yet no furlough days for staffers, the moves allow the county to hold onto its two-month reserve fund at least through 2016. That is, unless the economy has another downward spiral.

"I think we're very, very fortunate to be in a position where we can do this and be more stable," Nash said. "But we can't just set it on auto-pilot and let it run its course."

Comments

Mack711 2 years, 5 months ago

Here is an idea. We should have had voted on alchol sales on the last election. This may have help to raise more dollars to close some of the gap in the budget. Why not borrow it from the 1% E-SPLOST that was passed on the last election day.

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CD 2 years, 5 months ago

Until the subsidy to the Chamber is cut, then the taxpayers should not be asked to absorb yet another tax increase. Property owners cannot reasonably be expected to fund the activities of this corrupt organization.

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fred68 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm confused CD - where does Nash propose a tax increase?

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CD 2 years, 5 months ago

She has not. The increases are in the pipeline. That you may be assured of.

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JHogan 2 years, 5 months ago

Let the record show that the US Congress had the opportunity to provide ~$37 billion to the states and localities last month, but voted it down. Maybe some of that money could have "trickled down" to Gwinnett County.

Let the record also show that our two Senators , Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) voted against it. It is a crying shame when our own spokesmen in Washington won't even try to help us. That is exactly what has happened, because the Republican party is about trying to sabotage the economy so that the voters will reject the present administration, so that the Republicans will win by default.

It most certainly is not because they have any bettter ideas.

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JV 2 years, 5 months ago

So taking money from the U.S. federal coffers is the answer? Money that the U.S. government doesn’t even have but borrows from the likes of China? Or just prints at the U.S. Treasury. Watched any national news lately on the fiscal state of the federal government and the federal deficit? You may be surprised that it’s considerably more than Gwinnett’s $5 million problem.

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JHogan 2 years, 5 months ago

So the federal government is out of money? Is that your claim? Where do you think money comes from?

What is the issue with the "deficit"? Inflation? Higher interest rates?

If so, then where is the inflation? It is virtually non-existent. And interest rates are at all-time lows.

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R 2 years, 5 months ago

ALL TIME LOWS!!! Yes Sir and there’s ABSOLUTELY no possibility interest rates will rise over the next 50 years …. let alone the next 5

No inflation? Buy any food lately? smaller sizes higher prices YEP nothing to see here

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JHogan 2 years, 5 months ago

There is no reason to beleive that interest rates should rise when the economy has so much slack in it. ("Slack" is under-utilized capacity.)

Inflation is defined as the general decline in the purchasing power of the unit of currency (the dollar in the US.) Prices can and do fluctuate for many specific goods and services, like food. But that is price fluctuation, not inflation.

(It's worth noting that most of the food price increases go to middlemen and retailers rather than the producers).

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Karl 2 years, 5 months ago

JHogan, your lack of understanding of basic economic principles astounds me. You'd be better off if you refrained from commenting until you enroll (and complete) Econ 101 at the local junior college.

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JHogan 2 years, 5 months ago

What are those "basic economic principles" that you beleive in? If you'll list them, I'd be glad to respond to them, point by point.

In the meantime, may I suggest "The (Mis)Behaviour of Markets," by Benoit Mandelbrot (with Richard Hudson, former editor of the Wall Street Journal, in which they critique the leading macroeconomic theories. "Alchemy," they write, of all of them.

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JV 2 years, 5 months ago

Again, watched any national news lately? Please research this: The U.S. government debt rolled over to $15 TRILLION yesterday and still climbing. The average debt per citizen is at $50k and climbing and the debt per taxpayer is at $133k and climbing. And that friend is where the money comes from.

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JHogan 2 years, 5 months ago

You just made my point: In spite of huge deficits, neither interest rates nor inflation are a problem. The reason that matters is because that was the primary justification for "cutting the budget." Remember all those folks who were running around the country, claiming that if we didn't cut the budget, we'd have skyrocketing interest rates and inflation through the roof?

They were wrong. And they still are wrong. There were a number of high-profile economists who were making that claim, most of whom are on the right wing, but some liberals, too.

We need to reevaluate the entire study of economics in the US.

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JHogan 2 years, 5 months ago

I neglected to give you credit for figuring out where money comes from. Sorry about that. Most people would never have gotten that in a hundred years. Good on you.

"Deficits" actually represent new money into the economy. Without it, the economy would stagnate, at best, and contract without it.

Remember when President George W. Bush sent everyone $500? That was exactly the right thing to do at the time, the only problem was that he didn't do it often enough.

Enter President Obama. He then gives all the money to Wall Street. He makes them whole. He picks his Treasury Secretary from a list of candidates approved by Wall Street They hand out bonuses in the hundreds--no, billions-- of dollars, all while he's pretending that he's looking out for the average American. The media lets him get away with it, because they are on the receiving end of the deal. (GE, parent company of NBC and NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC) paid exactly no income tax last year).

For more explicit listing of the perks of being super-rich, please see "Perfectly Legal", by former NY Times reporter David Cay Johnston. You'll have to google that title and author because this website apparently frowns on hotlinks. But it is well worth investigating.

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MissDaisyCook 2 years, 5 months ago

What? Surely you understand that money from the Feds is also tax payer money. We either pay it directly or through the Fed pipeline where it is watered down before it gets back.

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JHogan 2 years, 5 months ago

Am I to understand that there are some people who think that getting some of our own money back is a bad thing? It irks me to the bone when our elected representatives and senators, for purely political reasons, subject their constituents to unnecessary hardship. It's outrageous.

The process of money creation and valuation is much more complex than most people realize. Taxes play no role in the process of money creation.

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NewsReader 2 years, 5 months ago

"...The Republican Party is about trying to sabotage the economy..."? Too late; your Messiah has already done so along with Princess Pelousy, Harry Reid, Frank, Dodd, and all the rest of the looters of the Treasury have done.

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Kent 2 years, 5 months ago

Our two senators are all about pork. They constantly support more funding for food stamps, agriculture, green energy, (Taxpayers got soaked for about $150 million in loan guarantees for two bio-fuel plants which went belly up). I would be surprised that they did not support bringing more pork home to Georgia. The country is bankrupt because all of the pigs back home who want the trough filled with all the "free" federal corn which politicians like Johnny and Saxby are more than willing to supply.

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R 2 years, 5 months ago

Revenue enhancers mentioned by Shirley Lasseter district 1 commissioner during meeting.

Maintaining the subsidy of the Chamber at last year’s level may not make sense at this point. It’s a well developed beast, why should we continue feeding it?

There are local and state grants that have been forgone because of the age old Shared Services Dispute… and yet it goes on just like The Walking Dead on A&E

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ptm4936 2 years, 5 months ago

How critical are the staff positions if we can leave them unfilled for 3-4 months after someone leaves? Sounds like they would be candidates to be eliminated.

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SuxBeanU 2 years, 5 months ago

JHogan, Karl was right, you need to study Econ 101, because clearly you don't understand how our economy works. But, I do understand your mission, and I'll paraphrase and old saying.......Having a discussion with you is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while, you realize the pig is enjoying it. You obviously have some weird understanding of how our "system" works, it's incorrect, but it's your opinion.

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JHogan 2 years, 5 months ago

Ah, a good ol' personal attack. That'll convince everybody.

The people who are "incorrect" are those who made the faulty predictions. In science, which economics aspires to be, whenever there is a conflict between the data and the theory, the data are retained and the theory is either modified or discarded.

BTW, this is not my personal opinion. There is an entire school of economic thought that is based on real-life data, complete with all the requisite mathematics and economic theory, to which I subscribe. It is called Modern Monetary Theory. You'll have to google that, but pay particular attention to the University of Missouri at Kansas City for the intellectual underpinnings. Also, google "Warren Mosler" and his website for a glimpse into reality.

Have a nice day.

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SuxBeanU 2 years, 5 months ago

OMG! MMT & Warren Mosler. The same Warren Mosler that moved to the Virgin Islands to avoid US taxation, the same Warren Mosler that writes for HufPo, the same Warren Mosler that builds kit car in Florida, the same Warren Mosler that got a whopping .98 % of the vote in his run for the US Senate? I sincerely hope that you don't follow this Pied Piper. Maybe in some parallel universe this thinking may work, but here in good old Gwinnett, that "dog won't walk". Gwinnett County has real problems, today, problems that some wonky theory is not going to resolve. Gwinnett County operates in the real world economy, not some theory based economy touted by some charlatan. I stand by my original statement.

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JHogan 2 years, 5 months ago

I'd intended to let this reply pass, but events of the last few hours prompted me to post a response. Let the record show that the reason that the economy has begun to crawl out of its doldrums is because of an idea from Warren Mosler and the MMT team. Their idea of cutting the payroll tax (that's the Social Security tax) by 2% has increased domestic spending to the point that we might--just might--begin to crawl out of this deep recession.

That is why most people have noticed an increase in their take-home pay, because of Warren Mosler and the MMT team. It put more money into the pockets of ordinary Americans, and they spent it into the economy.

This is all arcane stuff, but suffice to say that money is the fuel that makes the economic engine move. Put money into the engine and it moves forward; take away the money and the engine stalls. I think everyone who has ever given this subject a single thought gets this.

Another fact is that the states and counties are bound by a strict monetary rule: you can only spend what you collect. Unless you get some help from the Congress, which is the source of all the money of the United States. Which was the original purpose of this post.

There would be no reason to lay off anyone, or to cut services to any citizen, if Johnny Isakson or Saxby Chambliss had voted to provide additional revenue to the states and localities. It would have also have helped to move the economy of Gwinnett County forward.

I really like the ideation that most Gwinnetians are too stupid to understand how the monetary system of the US works. That'll get a lot of votes, yesirree.

You have another nice day.

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kevin 2 years, 4 months ago

I thought Nash found $1 miilion to give away to her employees? Camie, why haven't you reported to us where the $1million came from? I would like to know that.

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