ALBANY, GA (WALB) - We have said this for years, and we say it again, the citizens of Albany and Dougherty County should vote on the consolidation of city and county governments.
We would follow the success of eight other Georgia cities that have done this and saved at least $3 million each year, eliminating duplication of services and leadership.
Recently Dougherty County Commissioners announced their reserves are almost gone, and unless they make adjustments or cuts, the county will be out of money in October.
From 2015 to 2017, records show Dougherty County spent more than $4 million in its reserves, to balance their annual budget.
Now there is talk about having to increase the millage rate on property owners, to balance the books, which is completely unacceptable.
Who are they kidding? They must know the County School system millage rate is already close to the state limit.
Dougherty County, with one of the highest rates of poverty, will be among the highest taxed in the state.
Dougherty County had two huge disasters in January 2017 to recover from, but that is what the reserve money was put aside for.
Also, this comes at a time of unprecedented financial growth and prosperity. The state of Georgia sales tax revenue is growing, and the state is even talking about lowering our tax rates.
Thomas County has $15 million in its reserve fund. Lowndes County now has $16 million in reserves. Lee County has more than $8 million in reserves, and expect to grow it again this year.
Dougherty County has equal or better economic drivers like industry, population, and commercial properties than all those counties.
Dougherty County is unsuccessfully suing the state's Department of Community Health, with money we don't have, to try to stop the building of a hospital in Lee County.
We think Dougherty County Commissioners, instead of trying force other counties and state departments to handle business the way they like, should instead concentrate on their own budget problems.