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Larger budget transfer expected from county coffers (video added)

County Commissioner Ewell Lyle proposes cuts to the EDC, 3-1-1 and jail utilities.

Dougherty County Administrator Richard Crowdis explains the special services district's budget to Commissioner Ewell Lyle Wednesday.

Dougherty County Administrator Richard Crowdis explains the special services district's budget to Commissioner Ewell Lyle Wednesday.

— Dougherty County Administrator Richard Crowdis wrapped up his budget presentation Wednesday, but not before sharing with commissioners a change in the budget that will increase the amount the county may have to pull from its reserves.

Because of changing estimates in the amount of money the county collects from delinquent taxpayers and increases in the amount it will have to pay for software licenses, county officials said that the county's bottom line will shift by roughly $280,000.

That number also includes an additional $33,025 headed to the county's emergency management department and $12,835 that will go to partially fund a Geographic Information Technology specialist position.

That change will force the county to pull about $1.6 million from reserves, up from the $1.4 million county officials had anticipated last week.

In the revenues section of the FY2013 budget, Personal Property Tax collections for prior year taxes are expected to be at $50,000, down from $185,000.

Dougherty County Commissioner and Finance Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Hudgins said Wednesday's news obviously wasn't good and was emblematic of a trend of dropping revenues that started two years ago.

"We're going to have to transfer more than we thought, but (the budget) is fluid," Hudgins said. "We usually spend less than what we budget when it comes to the transfer, so it's not a good thing, but we're in tough times and we're just trying to go one day at a time."

After Crowdis wrapped up his budget walk-through with members of the county's finance subcommittee, one commissioner on the panel had some suggestions to cut the budget that he said could help the commission at least show the constituents of Dougherty County that they're making an effort to cut the budget especially even as the spectre of a 2-mill tax increase on property taxes for the residents of unincorporated Dougherty County looms.

"Just the thought of raising it higher than the millage rate that the people in the city are paying is confusing to people," Commissioner Ewell Lyle said. "The question I'm getting from my constituents is how can we justify that? And frankly I can't answer it."

Lyle suggested cuts to the county's portion of funding for both the 3-1-1 phone service and to the county's $250,000 share of funding for the Albany-Dougherty County Economic Development Commission.

Lyle even offered that the county should consider cutting utility costs by turning off the air conditioner at the Dougherty County Jail.

"We have to look more at the budget so that services fits with the budget, not the other way around," Lyle said.

While a 2-mill tax increase is far from certain, if adopted, it would raise property taxes for those in the unincorporated area of Dougherty County by $80 per year on a $100,000 home.

Currently, the millage rate is the same as it was in 1995 for residents of the unincorporated part of the county, Hudgins said.

"I don't want to raise taxes. No one wants to raise taxes. But the reality is that we have two major items in the Special Services District: Fire and Police. Which do we cut?" Hudgins said. "If we don't cut, then we have to raise the millage. There are few other options."

Comments

Cartman 2 years, 4 months ago

So in addition to the ridiculous property assessment which does not reduce tax appraisal values to reality, but actually claims they slightly increased; they are talking about a millage increase? You guys don't get it, do you? Cut the spending! I don't mean just a little. I mean cut off every unnecessary item to the bone. This is an economic depression. Govern yourself accordingly. Thanks a lot, Jeff "Bodine" Sinyard. I noticed you avoided mention in the article. Don't think we have forgotten the fantasy tax assessment from a few years ago, under your leadership that we are still yoked with.

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tocar 2 years, 4 months ago

They don't just get it. We, the taxpayers, have begged and spoken our feelings regarding a millage increase. Most of the 15 percen taxpayer base are struggling to stay in Dougherty County. They live on fixed incomes, buy groceries, pay utility bills, pay taxes and medical care. They cannot handle anything else. They are tired of you balancing the budget off of their shoulders. Cut unnecessary spending to the bone including the lovely contributions to the Riverquarium. By the way we are not a city of tourism. We have had the Riverquarium shoved down our throats and it is a money pit. May be $80 more in taxes is not much to Hudgins or Sinyard, but it is to these small families who just do make ends meet. If some of these 15 percent could afford to move out of Dougherty County, maybe Mr. Hudgins and Mr. Sinyard and Mr. Crowdis could feel some of the heat.

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Progressive 2 years, 4 months ago

Thank you commissioner Lyle for standing up and speaking for what is right! The county and city commissioners have been irresponsible with the tax monies they have received for many years. Our city and county government infrastructure is extremely inefficient, and nothing is being planned to address the high property taxes and excessive spending. With no prior planning, they only seem to know one avenue: to raise our already high property taxes.

Please plan to attend the public hearing(s) on Monday, June 11th, to voice your frustrations. If you do not speak up, the commissioners will not pay attention.

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J.D._Sumner 2 years, 4 months ago

Just FYI TOCAR and Cartman: The county stopped funding the RiverQuarium in last year's budget and Sinyard isn't mentioned because he's not on the Finance Subcommittee that met yesterday.

As far as assessments go, the state inacted a three-year moratorium on assessments that ended this year, which also required what was tantamount to a revaluation on property. If your assessment went up, it's likely because A. you had some improvements to your home or B. The value of your home increased. Since assessors now have to figure in fair market value and comparable sales, many assessments actually went down. You apparently were just unfortunate enough to have yours increase.

You can always appeal your assessment, by the way, and speak your peace to the board of assessors who set the value.

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Cartman 2 years, 4 months ago

Thanks J.D. and yes, I was already aware that the county stopped Riverquarium funding and didn't mention it in my comment. IIRC, the property assessment from three years ago was pretty inflated, and in fact so far out of whack that it sparked the formation of a taxpayers organization. It was also intentionally timed to freeze the tax values at the forefront of an omnimously approaching drop in real estate values. The recent appraisal should have reflected that drop in real estate values. Instead, I believe that they said residential real estate values rose 3%. Not much, but certainly a disappointment to those of us who awaited the downward correction that many counties in the Atlanta area saw. I was not referring to my individual piece of property, but residential property collectively. Color me skeptical, but I find it hard to believe that Dougherty residential properties increased since the last appraisal.

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MRKIA 2 years, 4 months ago

COMBINE D.C POLICE WITH THE D.C. SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT. WHY HAVE 2 COUNTY POLICE DEPT'S?

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43cop 2 years, 4 months ago

O.K. J.D., you are right. They did not fund the RiverQuarium last year, but did prior to that when the economy was headed in a downward direction which took monies from the County budget that could have ben given to employees for being dedicated to Dougherty County. Now you mention Sinyard, correct again in you reference to Finance Subcommittee, but if the news media has anything correct, he is the CHAIRMAN of the Doughety County Commission. With this in mind, you cannot tell me that he was not aware of any of this as he is always stating that he is aware of everything that goes on in county government. Now last but not least, Richard Crowdis, enought said. As far as filing an appeal for tax increases, that is a joke itself because the board of tax assessors are going to stick with what they have and that has been proven through other appeals. Awaiting you arrogant reply.

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