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