Dougherty passes $81 million budget

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County Commission unanimously adopted its Fiscal Year 2011 budget Monday, approving a late round of cuts to county departments in order to appropriate $60,000 to two local community agencies.

The $81 million budget is up 0.8 percent from last year's totals, largely thanks to increases in health insurance costs.

The largest chunk of money is the county's maintenance and operations budget, which consumes $46,341,575 of the total amount.

The special tax district is budgeted at $7 million with the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund budgeted at $3.4 million.

The county's special sales tax budgets total $18 million.

The budget approved Monday includes both five unpaid holidays for employees and a $50,000 appropriation to the Flint RiverQuarium. The county also voted to fund a $10,000 stipend for the James H. Gray Sr. Senior Center.

The $60,000 allocated to the RiverQuarium and senior center Monday were funded through cuts from state court, the Dougherty County Jail and Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful.

RiverQuarium Board Chair Emily Jean McAfee said that she and others with the agency were appreciative of the county's allocation, but that some adjustments would still have to be made.

"We really needed more than $50,000, but we're appreciative that there were compromises made and that our leaders saw fit to consider us for funding and get us back into the budget," McAfee said. "We're going to have to make some adjustments of course, and I don't think we're quite prepared to make those public, but there will be some adjustments, yes."

Judge John Salter cut court reporter expenses from $100,000 to $79,000; Sheriff Kevin Sproul reduced doctor, emergency room and utilities expenses by a total of $32,700 with KADB being cut $6,300.

The commission will also have to add back into the budget $15,797 it had cut previously due to a lack of voluntary pay cuts undertaken by local judges and constitutional officers.

Although only two people -- Superior Court Judge Stephen Goss and Sproul -- had taken the cut by the June 22 deadline, two others have since agreed to cut their pay.

Magistrate Robert Revell and Superior Court Judge Denise Marshall both have agreed to cut their county supplements by 2 percent.

The county also approved a contract Monday with Phoebe Putney Health System to provide health services for inmates at jail. It was a deal between the county and Phoebe that allowed the county to reduce the number of unpaid holidays it was going to impose on its work force.

Phoebe cut its price in half for the first year of the contract, saving the county roughly $700,000 in exchange for extended terms to renew the contract.