Budget, millage to be approved Tuesday

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

A public hearing will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday regarding the proposed budget and millage rate for fiscal year 2012.

The meeting will be held prior to the 7 p.m. regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners at the Newton County Historic Courthouse at 1124 Clark St. The board is expected to approve the budget and millage during its regular meeting.

A consensus was reached by commissioners in late June to keep the millage rate at 10.91 and to adopt a budget of $44,248,176. Due to advertising requirements, the budget could not be approved by the July 1 start of the fiscal year.

As proposed, the budget includes a reduction of about 18 percent to the public works department, for a budget of $4,329,599. Last year's public works budget totaled nearly $5.3 million.

The Sheriff's Office will be funded at last year's level on the law enforcement side, while the jail will receive a $516,000 increase to hire four more employees and to account for a rise in food and medical care costs. The sheriff's budget totals $18,035,543. Fire services will be funded at last year's level at $3.816 million.

The Recreation Commission will be cut $100,000 for a total budget of just over $1.7 million. The department received less impact than others because it has added several new facilities.

The library was cut by about 18 percent, with a total allocation of $916,452 for both branches.

Other departments will take cuts of between 1 and 25 percent.

Residents will not pay fees to use recycling centers as had been previously considered and no other service fees are included in the budget.

Chairman Kathy Morgan has said once the budget is approved, recommendations for employee cuts will be made.

"I will tell you the conversations I have had with department heads is they are trying to find the dollars to cut in other areas instead of displacing much needed employees. Some will be successful, others will not," she previously told the Citizen. "Regardless of employee cuts or other cuts to manage the operations of the county, service will be impacted. Most of the employees are working hard to find a way to provide services to the citizens of our county in the most efficient manner while saving taxpayers dollars."