Dougherty budget ready for vote

ALBANY, Ga. -- After a bit of minor tweaking, which Dougherty County Administrator Richard Crowdis said is likely to continue up until the day it is approved, the county's Fiscal Year 2014 budget is pretty much ready for consideration by the entire County Commission.

The commission's Finance Committee discussed minor changes to the budget at a special called meeting Wednesday, including a slight $26,846 uptick to the overall General Fund, and went over special-purpose local-option sales tax and other county-maintained funds before determining itself ready to vote on presenting a finished proposed budget to the commission at that body's regular meeting Monday.

"The budget can be tweaked and changed right up until the time the commission votes on it, so we'll bring it up for discussion at every Monday meeting until it is approved," Crowdis said. "Any changes (from Monday) will be presented to the full commission."

One possible change to the $44,371,453 General Fund is an anticipated discount on jail inmate health care provided by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. That discount, which is generally around $600,000, would provide a brighter fiscal outlook for the belt-tightening county government.

Responding to a question by Finance Committee member John Hayes about the Phoebe discount, Crowdis said, "We sent that letter last week. We requested the same discount that we got last year; we didn't ask for more. This is something they've done for us the last three or four years."

The $26,000-plus increase added to the General Fund came mostly from a position sought by Facilities Management. The amount -- $41,647 -- was offset by a $14,786 reduction in the coroner's office budget.

"Facilities management added a position, but the earlier budget shows that they deleted two positions," Crowdis said. "That savings is reflected in their budget, so even with this additional amount, the net results is still $14,000 to the good.

"The coroner (Michael Fowler) has reorganized his department -- like he said he would during his campaign -- and things like doing away with a full-time position for two part-time position, with no benefits, helped cut costs in the office."

Finance Director Martha Hendley went over current budgets for SPLOSTs II-VI and offered a list of projects being funded by the 1 percent tax collections. Funds available ranged from $603,363 in SPLOST II to $8,663,550 in SPLOST VI.

Crowdis said he will discuss recommended reappropriation of some SPLOST funds at Friday's Finance Committee meeting.