Lee budget won't include tax increase, some fees increase - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee budget won't include tax increase, some fees increase

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Lee County taxes won't go up in the new budget, but the cost of some services will.

The 21 million dollar spending plan was unveiled Wednesday, and Commissioners were able to balance the budget without employee furloughs. They also managed to reduce a 3.6 million dollar deficit down to just $600,000.

Public safety is the only department that saw jobs added, 11, which included 4 new deputies on the streets, Sheriff Reggie Rachals had asked for a lot more to keep up with increased calls, but will make the best of what his office was given.

Facing off across the table, finance committee chairman Bill Williams' pen quickly began slicing away at the Sheriff's proposed 1.5 million dollar budget increase. "Capital renovations I took that out completely," said Williams.

Meaning no renovations for the jail. Among the items slashed employee raises and the 14 requested new Sheriff's vehicles, a point of contention for Sheriff Reggie Rachals.

"The other cars we got are not going to hold up I believe long enough without a whole lot of repair and maintenance," said Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals.

Commissioners agreed to four. Sheriff Rachals will get four new street deputies, three jail employees, two 911 operators, and two courthouse deputies. Manpower he needs on the streets.

"I think it's going to be a great relief on the deputies that are out there and maybe cover the county a little bit better than we've been able to do," said Rachals.

New growth near the intersection of Highway 19 south and Forrester Parkway in the county won't come soon enough to help with this year's budget, and with revenue down, commissions may have to go to residents for some help.

"We're going to have to start looking at revenue increase we really are," said Williams.

Late Wednesday afternoon commissioners raised garbage fees a dollar a month and landfill fees by 25 percent. To balance the 21 million dollar budget commissioners used $600,000 in reserves.

There was some good news for all county employees they'll get a three percent pay increase starting in October. The Sheriff's Office also received the 10 tasers, two radars, and four car camera system he requested.

Commissioners will hold their first public hearing on the budget Tuesday, June 8th at 6:00 PM in the T. Page Tharp Governmental Building.

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