Tight budget, no tax increase - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tight budget, no tax increase

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May 17, 2004

Leesburg-- South Georgia's fastest growing county is slowing down a bit. Commissioner Jackie McCorkle says, "This is the leanest, toughest budget we have ever had to put together."

Lee County commissioners say they will cut the budget before they raise taxes.  Lee County's revenue grew 1.3 %--the smallest growth in the past few years. Now, commissioners have to contend with leaner times, and a tighter budget. But, they say a tax increase isn't an option.

Homeowners in Lee County have had it good the past five years, "Over the last five years there has not been a millage increase, a matter of fact we dropped the millage rate two years and flat-lined three. Hopefully this year we will be able to hold the millage level what it was last year," says McCorkle.

McCorkle, who helped prepare the proposed 17.6 million dollar budget, says a property tax increase is the last resort to balance the budget, "We can provide the same level of service that we are providing now without a tax increase, it will just mean we will have to postpone a few things we are talking about."

Like the Redbone Library, which will be built with SPLOST funds where the old fire station use to be. Delaying the opening saves $50,000.00 dollars.

Another place to trim back: Overtime at the jail. That saves $20,000.00. To balance the bottom line, the proposed budget needs to be cut $700,000.00 dollars. Commissioners say they can do it.

Commissioner Billy Mathis says, "I mean look, we grew revenues in a bad economy, all we have to do as commissioners is don't spend more than we bring in, that's a fairly simple task, we will get there." And to get there, these commissioners say it will not take a property tax increase.

The Commission will look at the proposed budget for the first time at Monday night's meeting.

Posted at 4:40 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com