Dougherty Co. looks at options to increase its revenue by the end of the month

Dougherty Co. looks at options to increase its revenue by the end of the month
Dougherty County will be out of money by October. (Source: WALB)
Dougherty County will be out of money by October. (Source: WALB)
The County is bringing in a consultant to help with the revenue problems. (Source: WALB)
The County is bringing in a consultant to help with the revenue problems. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Dougherty County will be out of money by October and unable to pay its bills, according to the county administrator, who is bringing in consultants to help commissioners find ways to increase revenue and stay out of the red.

"As it stands we have a revenue problem," said Interim County Administrator Michael McCoy. "Our tax revenue comes in in November, December, so budget starts in July and we can't make it to November and December."

The problem Dougherty County is facing is the budget has gone up $1.2 million from $49 million to over $50 million.

"We've used reserve funds, so as you know, if you keep pulling money out and you don't put any in, eventually you're gong to get to zero," explained McCoy.

McCoy said the reason they've spent so much has a lot to do with the increase in service costs by outside vendors, such as retirement plans for state employees, food services at the county jail and maintenance contracts.

"We've also increased our line item for professional services, legal services," said McCoy.

Those legal services include at least two lawsuits, one over the proposed Lee County Hospital and the other dealing with McCoy himself.

MORE: Dougherty Co. leader files lawsuit against county, commissioners

Dougherty County currently has a lawsuit against the state of Georgia. Commissioners didn't address the lawsuit during Monday's Commission meeting.

WALB did talk to Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas about the lawsuit after the meeting, but he said he could not confirm the exact amount the county has spent on the suit so far.

"That is an expense it's associated with," said Cohilas.

The county does have to pay for the legal services, which comes out of its revenue for the year.

In addition, the county is spending $15,000 a month for a Georgia based lobbying firm to advocate on behalf of the county for grants and other possible state funding.

The county has also seen a decrease in its biggest source of revenue.

"Our taxes, property taxes in particular, and yes we have seen a reduction in close to $300 million in the value of our digest over the past ten years," McCoy said.

This is the reason the board of commissioners has decided to bring a consultant group in to discuss the issue next week.

"To my knowledge we have not been in a situation like this before, so that was the reason for recruiting outside resources to help us navigate these issues we're currently facing," said McCoy.

If the County does not find a way to raise revenue, it could put some public services at risk.

McCoy, however, said he does not believe it will get to that point.

The commission will consider several options, which could include raising homeowners' property tax millage rates.

The consultants will discuss all the possibilities during a presentation at next Monday's commission meeting.

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