By Karen Cohilas - bio | email
ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Dougherty County is facing a multi-million dollar budget shortfall. Commissioners are implementing policies they hope will save $1.6 Million before the end of this fiscal year. But they're worried about next year's budget too.
Sales Tax dollars aren't coming in as projected, and the budget deadline has been extended for department heads, so they can slash 10% from their budgets.
Just last month, county officials used the F-word when discussing what to do about a budget shortfall. Furloughs won't be necessary right now, but other steps are being taken immediately to stop the bleeding.
"Revenues have decreased by $2.6 Million and we don't have a printing press for money like the federal government. We have to decrease our expenditures," said Finance Committee Chairman Lamar Hudgins.
The decrease in revenues is about 9% from last fiscal year. The county already planned to bring $3.9 Million from reserves to balance the budget. Now they'll have to bring an additional $2.6 Million from reserves just to finish out the next four months, or cut expenses.
Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said, "Right now, we're about $6.5 Million potentially out of whack, that's our estimate that we're going to be down on the budget between now and the end of June."
Starting immediately, there is a freeze on capital equipment purchases unless there is an essential public safety or public health issue. That should save about a million dollars. All travel and training have been suspended, unless mandated by state or federal regulations.
That should shave $50,000 All existing and future vacancies will be frozen, unless it's critical to public safety. That's estimated to save $150,000, and overtime has been suspended unless absolutely critical, that's a savings of $400,000.
That still leaves the county looking for another million in savings to balance out the budget. "We're hoping once that trend of $1.6 Million begins that more savings can be found that would not require furloughs," said Hudgins.
And they are looking ahead to the next budget. The commission voted to extend departmental budget proposal to request all departments reduce their budgets by 10% of their current appropriations. A tough task, but one that may save jobs.
Sinyard said, "We really don't know what the economy is going to bring us, but we're trying to be prudent business people, we're trying to protect our employees, trying to keep all our employees working."
While trying to maintain services for the taxpayers who fund those positions. Even with the savings of $1.6 Million-dollars, Dougherty County's reserve balance will be lower than what leaders would like. Typically, the county keeps three months operating expenses in reserves. The reserve fund will likely dip below that mark.
©2009 WALB News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Preliminary investigations revealed the female victim fell from a billboard while conducting routine maintenance, and suffered fatal injury, according to Lowndes County Coroner Austin J. Fiveash.More >>
Health officials are urging you to be careful around wildlife and stray animals, after a South Georgia family was attacked by a fox with rabies. This happened last Thursday on Cotton Avenue in Lake Park. A man and his dog were attacked by the fox when they went outside their house. Lowndes County animal service employees said the fox's test came back positive for Rabies. "Once someone really becomes infected with the rabies virus and it develops into the disease.More >>
The man convicted of ambushing a Valdosta Police officer in 2016 was sentenced Monday morning to 10 years, for attempted murder.More >>
Every year, the debate over vaccinating children stirs up conversation about whether or not they are necessary. Ashlyn Becton looks into why some choose not to vaccinate while others think children need the protection.More >>
Dougherty County school system leaders showed off what they're are calling a game-changer for South Georgia on Monday. The doors to the first part of the Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy opened for the first time today.More >>