Budget cuts shakeup South GA - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Budget cuts shakeup South GA

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

August 15, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The State of Georgia has a budget crisis and it's about to shakeup state agencies.

Open positions are frozen, travel expenses eliminated and some state workers even face furloughs.

Employees of the Department of Human Resources will have to take a day off without pay each month.

One of the hardest hit areas may be the state's University and Technical College systems.

Valdosta Technical College is forced to cut their nearly $9 million budget by six percent. It's a move that won't come easy.

"Its hard to manage when enrollment is increasing," says Dr. F.D. Toth, President at Valdosta Tech.

But College President F.D. Toth says administrators have found a way to do it.

"We've cut all out of state travel. We've cut out any non-essential travel," Toth says.  "We have six positions that are vacant now and we haven't filled any of these. We have two more retirements coming in December and we will not fill those positions."

If forced to cut the budget even more, employees may see their pay raises deferred, be forced to take one day off without pay each quarter or make the move to a four day school week.

All moves the college would like to avoid.  "But if you close this building we're in now, then you cut programs that make us money. The non-credit things that are here on Friday and Saturdays," Toth adds.

They aren't the only ones. Reed Bingham State Park near Adel is feeling the pinch too.

"I think every state agency is feeling the affects of the budget," says Park Manager Chet Powell.

They are waiting to hear from the DNR board who will vote on a savings plan later this month. In the past, that has included raising park fees, a hiring freeze and possibly even closing some of the less visited parks.

"We're just doing the best we can right now to prepare for that and to work with whatever we have to work with," Powell says.

All agencies will do everything they can to cut the budget without cutting staff.

The revamped budgets will take effect next month.  They are predicted to last until 2010.

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