The Union Recorder

November 20, 2013

County budget approved unchanged

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — After Baldwin County Commission chatter concerning the 2014 fiscal year budget, the county adopted the document as presented Tuesday night in a 4-1 vote, with District 1 Commissioner Emily Davis the lone vote against.

The budget for the period of Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2014 is balanced with a general fund of $18.5 million.

County Finance Director Dawn Hudson said requests, mandates and reductions created just a $41,000 overall revenue increase.

“This is a conservative, balanced budget, and there wasn’t really any additional funding,” Hudson said.

Henry Craig, District 4, and Davis tried attaching amendments to the document that eventually failed after board debate.

Craig requested resolution language restricting the county’s tax anticipation note (TAN). The county borrows money as needed for general operating expenditures incurred throughout the fiscal year until revenue tax streams are actually collected from October to December.

The budget language states such “notes shall not exceed $7,500,000.” Craig wanted that dropped to a flat $7 million.

“We’ve worked very hard to give the community the message that we are going to stop borrowing money. I don’t want to give a message we will even consider at this time increasing our dependence on borrowed money,” Craig said.

Chairman Sammy Hall, District 3, disagreed with Craig’s TAN-related motion.

“We aren’t going to borrow money that we don’t need,” Hall said. “We don’t expect to borrow $7 million, but in the event that we have a critical situation and we have to, it would be much easier to have that built into our budget to do it. It’s kind of a safety net.”

The county borrowed $7 million off last year’s TAN. Hudson said interest costs will approach $100,000.

The finance director said the county stops drawing from the note as soon as tax revenue comes in each fall.

Craig’s TAN language amendment failed 3-2 with Tommy French, District 2, Davis and Hall voting against it.

Davis also revisited her “across the board” raises for all county employees budget amendment proposal Tuesday.

Craig asked his fellow commissioner to define the raise because the motion would affect the balanced budget.

“In talking with our finance director and county manager, it is possible and can happen,” Davis said.

Hudson reminded the board budget amendments could come during the next year when the millage rate is set.

Davis’ push for raises died for lack of a commissioner second to the motion.

n City and County researching functional service consolidation

Hall said in the last five months several meetings with City of Milledgeville officials, county management and attorneys have included discussion on service consolidation such as fire departments, building codes and 911 emergency areas.

“We’ve discussed it for five months and are still in about the same position we started,” Hall said. “Those of us that have been meeting agreed there needs to be a consensus among us that’s the direction we want to go in.”

Commissioners passed a resolution approving a cooperative effort between city and county boards to explore possible consolidation areas if it’s advantageous to do so, according to Hall.

Both government bodies must be informed of matters discussed and studied between and on behalf of the two entities.

The mayor and Council will vote on a similar resolution at their regular gathering next week, according to County Attorney David McRee.

Craig applauded the new working relationship.

“I can’t remember when this was ever done before where the city and county readily talked about doing things together for the benefit for the entire community,” he said.