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Dougherty officials see budget positives

ALBANY, Ga. -- Not that he needed a reminder, but Dougherty County Commissioner Lamar Hudgins gave County Administrator Richard Crowdis one anyway.

"About three years ago, I believe, you were using the word 'dire,'" Hudgins, the chairman of the commission's Finance Committee, said after Crowdis cautiously expressed optimism over the general fund of the county's Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Crowdis told the Finance Committee at a meeting Wednesday morning that he "feels pretty good" about a FY 2014 general fund that preliminarily comes in at $44,344,607, a 2 percent cut from the $45,265,345 general fund under which the county is currently operating.

"There are other components of the budget, but the general fund is where the rubber meets the road," Crowdis said. "I feel pretty good about our (FY 2014) general fund and the way (the current fiscal year) will end."

Crowdis also confirmed that the county's Finance department projects $742,668 less in expenses than had been estimated for the current budget. If the figure holds through the end of the fiscal year (June 30), that amount will be added to the county's fund balance and bring reserves to an unassigned total of slightly more than $10.4 million. Actual reserves will be a little more than $12 million.

"I was really excited to see that we would be adding money to the fund balance at the end of the fiscal year," Hudgins said. "We went into this budget year with plans to use $1.3 million in reserves to balance the budget. That's a $2 million swing in the right direction."

Crowdis' FY 2014 budget breakdown showed decreases across the board except for Public Safety, which is budgeted for a 2.2 percent increase from $14,217,961 to $14,525,859. But Dougherty Sheriff's Department Col. John Ostrander, the director of the Dougherty Jail, said the Public Safety budget may very well move toward neutral territory before it is approved.

"Our numbers reflect costs at the jail without the (inmate health care) discount Phoebe (Putney Memorial Hospital) has provided the last several years," Ostrander said. "If they offer the same discount this year, you'll see our budget level out."

Budget cuts are projected at 1.7 percent ($9,755,936) for county government -- which includes the library system, Registration and Elections, the tax office and other agencies, 4 percent for the county's judicial system ($10,195,246), 4.1 percent for Public Works ($2,776,939), 6.1 percent for health and social services ($5,535,308), 7.2 percent for agriculture interests ($104,219) and 9.2 percent for other expenditures that include insurance, benefits and contingency ($1,451,100).

The county's FY 2014 expenditures also include cuts in contributions made to three of five outside agencies the county works with: 14.15 percent less ($1,237,585) to the Dougherty County Board of Health/Department of Community Health; 4.8 percent less ($98,335) to the Department of Family and Children Services; and 4.8 percent less ($65,668) to the Albany Area Community Service Board.

Contributions will remain the same for the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission (a state-mandated $52,010) and the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission ($250,000).

That latter funding drew criticism from Finance Committee member John Hayes.

"I want to say that I'm not sold on the EDC," Hayes said.

Hudgins asked, "The amount or the function?"

Hayes replied, "Both, but I'll talk further with you about that."

After the meeting, the District 2 commissioner said he's not pleased with the effort he's seen from the EDC.

"I'm not trying to throw anyone under the bus here, but I'm disappointed in what I've seen from EDC," Hayes said. "For us to be competitive in recruiting new businesses, our folks have got to make sure we get a good return on our investment. I haven't seen that.

"I expect the best effort from (EDC staff) when they're pursuing a potential candidate. I just don't see the effort. I would expect them to be proactive, but it's like they throw the bait out there and if they don't get an immediate bite, they roll up their fishing pole and go home."

Comments

dingleberry 11 months ago

Well John, perhaps it's getting hard to catch fish when we rank up near the top in all negative categories of things measured. Kind of puts a damper on what others see as quality of life, don't you think? Why don't we let you take charge of the EDC and let's see what you can troll for successfully.

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B4it 11 months ago

Hayes also made another foolish comment in another article about reopening one of the two closed libraries. Hayes said the "Westtown is in the thick of that community, so I would think it gets more visits".

Hayes is on both the County Commissioner Board and on the Library Board. He should know which one has the most traffic simply by asking the right questions for the prior number of visits for each location. He should not be speculating on which one has the most traffic. Speculation often leads to bad decisions. I am not impressed at all with Hayes' ability to ask the right questions, or to make good decisions for this county.

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whattheheck 11 months ago

"I expect the best effort from (EDC staff) when they're pursuing a potential candidate. I just don't see the effort. I would expect them to be proactive, but it's like they throw the bait out there and if they don't get an immediate bite, they roll up their fishing pole and go home."

Let's have specifics John since you raised the issue. What is the EDC not doing, in more tangible terms that have some meaning.

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Amazed2 11 months ago

I support Hayes on this one. EDC just justified themselves a move to new facilities out and away from the Chamber People. On paper they painted a picture of what a great deal it was to move. Problem is they are using tax dollars to go rent a desperate building from another government intenty.. They should have been out finding a business to lease the space instead of out looking for New Space for themselves. Now they don't share support staff and equipment. Basically the EDC leaders should be fired every 2 yes if they can't produce . They are basically in sales. A salesman that sells little gets canned in the real world.

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