Newton BOC budget meetings start Monday

COVINGTON — County officials are preparing to configure the numbers for a two-year budget and discuss what can be done to reduce the millage rate.

The first budget work session begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Newton County Historic Courthouse. The Board of Commissioners created budget committees made up of at least two commissioners in order to hear from the various department heads.

“For the last month and a half our commissioners have listened to department heads and I think they’ve gained knowledge on what each department needs,” Chairman Keith Ellis said. “The committees gave an opportunity for department heads to converse with commissioners in a less formal setting. It was definitely a worthwhile endeavor.”

The county plans to not only reduce the millage rate, but also restore the five furlough days to the county employees.

Ellis said they’ll also be taking under advice the requests from all department heads and constitutional officers.

“Although we haven’t come to a consensus yet, there’s been some discussion and in our strategic planning, we’ve all pledged to lower the millage rate,” Ellis said. “And I’m personally pledging to voters that I will find a way to have all commissioners on board to do the same.”

The public budget work sessions will allow commissioners to ask questions about the proposed budget and there is no set agenda, according to Ellis.

The other budget meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. on June 9 and June 16. Ellis will also be hosting a “Chairman’s Chat” prior to Monday’s first meeting at 3 p.m. in his office. He also encouraged citizens to email or call their district commissioners prior to the budget process.