Fast growing Lee County comes up short for next year - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fast growing Lee County comes up short for next year

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March 3, 2008

Leesburg --  Commissioners vow to find ways to get the million bucks they need without raising property taxes.   First on the list-- streamlining operations.    

It was during discussions with Utility Billing Manager LeClaire Bryan Lee County commissioners learned new computer software and bringing billing back inside the department could save Lee County $7,500.00.

Department heads were told to keep their budgets tight.  "We all know that we possibly need some more employees but we're all a team and we're trying to help Lee County, the taxpayers, and just continue to do the work with the employees that we have," said Bryan.

Commissioners are meeting with managers in each department, to get a better feel for what Lee County needs and what can be streamlined, like a proposal to combine EMS and Fire. The decision to streamline or expand those services all comes down to dollars and cents. 

"We lack a lot of things with EMS, we need to grow, it takes money. I don't even have an ambulance in my district on Highway 82 the most populous district in the county," said Ed Duffy a Lee County Commissioner.

 Instead of raising taxes, as commissioners put together their budget, they'll look for potential cuts. Those cuts could include items that continue to cost the county, like Grand Island Gold Course. 

"Last year we paid about $235,000 and this year so far about $60,000, so that won't come out of the general fund," said Lee County Commissioner Dennis Roland.

 Instead of a tax increase, commissioners say they'll look at fee increases, like garbage fees or other services county residents pay. "I'm a firm believer if you use it you pay for it and people who don't benefit shouldn't be paying for it," Roland says.

Commissioners say they'll have a better idea of where they stand once meeting with all the department heads. Only then can they balance potential cuts with their anticipated tax base to see what it will take to balance Lee County's budget.

Hearings will continue everyday this week except for Thursday and Monday and Tuesday of next week. Fire and EMS department heads will meet with commissioners on Friday and Grand Island's manager will meet with commissioners Monday afternoon.

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