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.
Hall asked what companies the Central State authority looks for outside the medical field.
“If it brings good positive job creation to Milledgeville, we need to be all about that,” Couch said. “Technology on that campus can bring a new subset of jobs to Milledgeville.”
In the Nov. 20 board of commissioners meeting, County Engineer Brian Wood brought the board a list of the worst county roads. He discussed a Department of Transportation program for road system improvement.
The Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) program allows the county to decide on the roads that will be resurfaced based on available funds. Under the old LARP system, DOT rated and approved the list for resurfacing county roads.
County matching funds of 30 percent are required on $368,000 worth of DOT grants bringing the total to $468,000.
Tuesday county officials revisited the list and the best way to get the worst roads resurface treatment. Three roads with ratings in the 20s are about to be lost, according to Wood.
“Old Country Club Road is so bad we can't tell if it's a surface treatment or an asphalt,” Wood said.
The commissioners debated the need for dead end roads compared to others on the list. Wood suggested adopting the list as is because the cost is unaffected by how many people live on a particular road.
“If they rate in the 20s, we need to do something now,” Wood said.
The county approved the list for the LMIG. Of the 45 roads listed, the funds cover surface treatment costs for roughly 15.
In other news:
• The commission approved a new lease agreement with BancorpSouth Bank for a Caterpillar Motor Grader costing $193,000 under state contract. Final lease payment on the old grader is $122,000. The county receives a higher trade in value with the overage going towards the new lease agreement.
• Traci White and Dennette Jackson were re-appointed to the Oconee Community Service Board.
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