The 2013 fiscal year Baldwin County budget was officially adopted Tuesday evening. The Baldwin County Commissioners agreed on a prepared, balanced budget of nearly $18.5 million.
After the public budget hearing Nov. 20, the staff continued to review line items though no changes were requested, according to County Finance Director Linda Zarkowsky.
The current year 8.78 millage rate remains unchanged.
“Based on current trends, the tax assessor expects that further decreases in property values will be seen in the 2013 digest,” Zarkowsy said. “In that case, there will be a shortfall in the budget.”
Commissioner Bubba Williams, District 5, recommended a back up plan to prevent a future tax increase.
“I would recommend a Plan B other than raising the millage rate, and that would be a contingency plan to cut budgets,” Williams. “I would suggest our department heads have these contingency budget cuts prepared. That way if we don't have the money, they will be ready to go.”
Zarkowsky said the biggest budget expenditure is personal services, which is the focus of most county budget cuts. For example, Public Works employees dropped from 60 to a current workforce of 19 over the years.
Commissioner Sammy Hall, District 3, said the county should watch spending and prepare adequately before a slow digest repressing drastic tax changes.
Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) Executive Director Mike Couch briefed the commissioners on progress since the authority's inception last February. Couch requested the county's input on the effort.
“We can't accomplish this project without partnerships at the local, state and federal levels,” Couch said.
The CSHLRA continues to work with Georgia College's new president Dr. Steve Dorman. Couch said education drives Baldwin County.
“We are talking about $400 million of investment in this zip code,” the CSHLRA director said.
Job creation is the main goal at CSH. Others include leveraging local education assets, pursuing federal funding and creating a master plan for the development of the 1,900-acre campus.