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County approves $44.9M budget

COVINGTON - County commissioners unanimously approved a nearly $45 million budget and agreed to keep the millage rate at 10.91 mils Tuesday night.

The budget of $44,898,056 is an increase of nearly $650,000 over the fiscal year 2012 budget.

The millage rate will be a total of 12.811 mils, when the hospital indigent fund, emergency medical services and state of Georgia rates are added. In addition, unincorporated Newton, Mansfield,Newborn and Porterdale have a fire district millage rate of .792 mils.

During a public hearing on the budget prior to the BOC's regular meeting, one resident said she's disappointed commissioners opted not to raise the millage rate.

Ann Neuhierl, a resident of Villages at Ellington off Brown Bridge Road, is leading the citizen effort to get roads repaired there.

"I'm having a very hard time getting my mind around how we cannot raise our millage rate and not have the money we need to run our government," she said, referring to a lack of funding for road maintenance in the budget. "I'm shocked and appalled, and I'm not happy."

Neuhierl said she's willing to pay more in property taxes, especially given that the value of her home has declined, in order to get more roads repaired.

Another citizen commended commissioners for not raising the millage, but added that commissioners should put pressure on the school board to raise the school system millage rate in order to help pay for roads. However, that portion of a resident's taxes goes to the school system.

Commissioners agreed that they will reexamine the budget in December and again in February to determine if revenues exceed projections and if so, where that additional money will go. Commissioners discussed applying any additional revenues to reinstate additional paid holidays for employees -- five out of 15 unpaid holidays were restored in this budget -- and to allocating additional funding to the Chamber of Commerce for economic development. The approved budget did not include a request by the Chamber to double the economic development budget, which is split between the city and county, to a total of $500,000, with the county contributing $250,000.

The motion to revisit revenues without naming specifically where any additional revenues will go was approved 4 to 1, with Commissioner Lanier Sims opposing.

In other news, Chairman Kathy Morgan announced there may be additional money in this year's budget to apply to road repairs. Morgan said the amount encumbered for fiscal year 2012 has not been finalized, so she asked commissioners to table a decision on the road projects that would benefit from the remaining funds.

Comments

dennistay53 2 years, 1 month ago

I am one that spoke at the public hearing. First off i have the upmost repect for this reporter. I have been reading her articles for years and she has to be at the top of her field in reporting. She is a much, much, better reporter than i am a speaker. Therefore i misspoke at the hearing. I did commend the commissioners for working together on a budget that held the millage level during these rough economic conditions. I never meant to state that school millage rates should be raised (but just the opposite) I meant to state that Newton County School system is 1 of only 8 county school system in the state of ga with a millage rate of 20 or above. Newton's being just under 22 when you add in the bond mils which places them in the top 5 COUNTY school systems in the state in high mils.What i meant to say is that the commissioners should put pressure on the school board to cut mils to the state average ( 14 to 18) so that when the county has to get money ( to repair roads as the other speaker requested) there would not be an overall tax increase for the homeowners but the money would be simply transfered from an over spending school board. Our county is a prime example that money to the school system does not necessary mean better results. Being top five in spending has not led us to being top 5 in positive results. There is much more room in the school system to cut executive pay to bring this system in line. Thank you

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Frustrated 2 years, 1 month ago

I agree that th esalaries of the top school officials need to be reduced. When the majority are making at or near the $100K level and the schools in the shape they are someone is getting overpaid. Im sure there are educators out of work right now that would be willing to come in at a lower salary and do a better job. Im really getting tired of the school board raising the millage rate year after year. If eveybody else has to tighten their belts to get by why not them?

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henrystamm 2 years, 1 month ago

Incredible! The school system is getting away with murder; lets replace all of them in November. BOC are already spending money that they don't have, lets get rid of them too, preferably next month.

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Billy 2 years, 1 month ago

School board budgets should have to be approved by the county commission. Anyone involved with public education is going to spend, spend, spend. Very, very few exeptions to that. Single people who don't have kids have to pay taxes to educate those that do, so there should be a brake on an organization that in their mind thinks that you can't spend enough on public schools. With the Alcovy principal suing everyone in sight that doesn't bow down to her, it might be time to tighten the belt even more...

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HonestAbe 2 years, 1 month ago

I second this. What a great way to get some over site on this free spending board.

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