Thomas County Commission votes against $1million budget cut - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Thomas County Commission votes against $1million budget cut

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

December 3, 2008

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Some property owners in Thomas County are angry. It looks like the county may raise their property taxes when money for many is already tight.

Two weeks ago County Commissioners ordered a million dollars to be cut from the county manager's proposed budget for 2009.

In a heated meeting Wednesday, they decided not to cut the budget. That will likely lead to higher taxes.

Today's meeting had a specific goal, to crunch numbers, 1 million dollars to be exact in the 2009 budget.

Every county department head was on the agenda to present individual proposals to the board in order to make the reduction happen.

Sheriff Powell was first on the agenda.  He let the board know he wasn't willing to additional cuts, afraid of jeopardizing public safety.

"Guess what folks, when the economy goes up, so does crime," he said.

Then Vice-Chairman Moses Gross made a motion that stirred up the room. He motioned against the million dollar cut.

The Board then voted 5 to 3 in favor of leaving the budget alone.

The vote angered residents and even the Board Chairman. Because next year's budget determines the property tax.

"I took the opinion that we have not got a good budget. It doesn't provide any tax relief...In fact, it will probably...with the economy the way it is...force an increase in taxes for the '09 budget," said Board Chairman Josh Herring.

A tax increase Rick Hounshell can't afford.

"My tax bill averaged out about 1300 dollars more this year and I was very surprised. I'm retired. I don't know what I'm going to do next year," he said.

"I'm very angry because I'm a disabled veteran, I'm on a fixed income. I'm a senior citizen, my income is not going to go up," sayd Dorothy Smith who also attended the meeting.

But the county manager says there's still hope depending on what the board decides to do with reserve money.

"There is a 1.1 million dollar reserve. And depending on what the board does with that reserve will dictate whether or not they will be able to lower taxes," said County Manager Mike Stephenson.

Department heads were still encouraged to make cuts wherever possible. But the 20.7 million dollar budget will give county agencies a little more wiggle room than expected.

The commission is scheduled to vote on the budget at their meeting next Tuesday. Feedback