Lee leaders to give budget and fees more thought - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee leaders to give budget and fees more thought

May 19, 2008

Lee County--  Lee County commissioners are dealing with another financial dilemma. Do they decrease a one-million dollar hole in their budget or increase safety in the county?

That was the long debate at a budget work session Monday night. Right now, the proposed $21-million budget includes more than $540,000 in increases from rising fuel costs and health insurance costs.

About $687,000 is earmarked for fire and emergency additions but some commissioners say they can't add more expenses now and will have to find alternatives.

"Based on the discussion that took place tonight, the commissioners have decided to basically go back to the drawing board and start from the top, go through departmental budgets line item by line item to determine what level of service to provide to the citizens of Lee County next year," said Lee County Administrator Alan Ours.

Commissioners will meet again on Thursday at 9 a.m. to rework the budget. Possibilities discussed Monday night include raising the millage rate, cutting more services or expenses and scrapping proposed fire and emergency additions.

The proposed fire and emergency additions would bring fire and emergency services to Palmyra, Smithville and New York Road.  Some other citizens may have to pay to receive services.          

Commissioners are considering a $250 fee on all residences and businesses in unincorporated parts of Lee County. They would create a special Lee County Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Services District for those 10-thousand citizens.

The fees would generate $2.4-million.

"The $250 fee that they're talking about, I feel like it's being put on the public with very short notice. I don't think it's a very good idea overall," said Lee County resident Larry Nixon.

If that fee ordinance passes, it would go into effect July 1st.

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