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Dougherty County Commission approves $77.4 million FY 2015 spending plan

Fiscal Year 2015 budget goes into effect today

County Administrator Richard Crowdis, foreground, discusses the county’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget Monday during a special called Dougherty County Commission meeting as City Attorney Spencer Lee looks on. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

County Administrator Richard Crowdis, foreground, discusses the county’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget Monday during a special called Dougherty County Commission meeting as City Attorney Spencer Lee looks on. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — After hearing from staff about small changes to the county’s proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget, the Dougherty County Commission approved without discussion Monday a $77,407,440 spending plan that will go into effect today.

County Administrator Richard Crowdis told the board the new budget includes an additional $120,000 for construction of a pair of solidification boxes at the county landfill. County Finance Director Martha Hendley noted that the final budget figure includes a $24,433 reduction in costs for meals at the Dougherty County Jail.

“Congratulations and thank you for all your hard work,” Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said to staff and the county’s Finance Committee after a special meeting that was called to approve the budget.

Also at that meeting, the commission ratified the emergency $84,530 purchase of an HVAC rooftop unit for the Central Square Annex Building that Crowdis made to expedite the process of replacing a chiller unit that “went down completely” last week, forcing the county to send employees home while a portable HVAC unit was brought in. The Central Square Annex houses the county tax offices, and city/county engineering, Planning and Code Enforcement, among other agencies.

Also approved was $44,173 in labor/installation costs, bringing the total emergency funding to $128,703. Crowdis noted that the money, which would come from Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax VI funds, was approved for up to $167,000.

“The cost of the portable chiller is $8,373 a month, so moving this process forward is going to save the county about $17,000,” Facilities Management Director Dwayne Greene told the commission.

Greene said the chiller is expected to be shipped to the county by July 15, and Comfort Systems USA of Albany has estimated a five-week installation period.

In a regular work session that preceeded the called meeting, the commission got a report on proposed changes to the Georgia Municipal Association-backed lease pool. The county is one of 30 government entities — including 24 cities (the city of Albany included), five counties and one school system — that signed onto the program in 1998 as a way to save interest payments on equipment purchases.

Crowdis told the board that the county had used the lease pool extensively before SPLOST, but has not used it since 2005. Bond Attorney Jim Woodward told the board the interest on the county’s investment in the pool pays any recurring costs, so the county remains a part of the pool at no additional cost.

GMA Financial Services Program Manager Matt Williams said the county’s approval of proposed changes in the lease pool will keep it compliant with the Dodd-Frank Act and protect its investment should the bank in which the money is invested “go upside down.”

“If that happens,” Williams said, “the money would be returned to the pool members on a pro rata basis.”

Tax Director Shonna Colley gave an updated report on the county’s tax digest, which shows a slight increase ($15,063,159 in net real property and $6,956,983 in assessed value) over 2013 in the county’s special services district and a slight overall decrease in assessed value ($14,966,388) in the countywide digest.

Colley noted that the county’s millage rate (of 11.894 mills) will remain unchanged.

District 6 Commissioner Jack Stone is one of the citizens who is not pleased with the tax office’s revaluation of his property, and he made that known during discussion of the tax digest.

“There’s no way this is accurate,” Stone said, holding up a copy of his tax revaluation. “The value of my 1,000-acre farm went up over $100,000, and there’s no way that’s right. This is so far out in left field it’s pathetic. I’m a county commissioner, and I can’t believe I was treated this way. There are going to be others who are just as mad as I am.”

Crowdis told Stone, “That’s why we have the appeals process.”