Lee Co. sees $1.8 million surplus in finances following a year of recovery

Updated: Dec. 14, 2019 at 12:51 AM EST
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LEE CO., Ga. (WALB) - It was a tough year for expenses in one Southwest Georgia county.

Despite the demands of Hurricane Michael recovery, Lee County officials said they managed to come out on top.

WALB News 10 was told there were many lessons learned in the cleanup and recovery efforts post Hurricane Michael.

But leaders in the county said they are conservative with the budget, making sure it is in the community’s best interest.

Against the damage and the debris, the power outages, and delays, Lee County found a way to stay strong financially.

“Everything that we feel like we were able to afford, we’ve been moving forward doing that,” said Co-County Manager Mike Sistrunk.

Mike Sistrunk is the Co-County Manager in Lee County.
Mike Sistrunk is the Co-County Manager in Lee County.(WALB)

The county has cut the checks for street sweepers, multiple generators and new technology after a storm that taught them a lesson.

“Commissioners are working hard on trying to put this money to use when it comes in,” Sistrunk explained.

The chairman said they’ve kept a close eye on the budget to do what’s necessary.

“It was a tough year for the expense and we did all of those things and still have a surplus,” said Lee County Commission Chairman Billy Mathis.

Billy Mathis is the Chairman of the Lee County Board of Commissioners.
Billy Mathis is the Chairman of the Lee County Board of Commissioners.(WALB)

A $1.8 million surplus to be exact.

“That puts us at a little over $10 million fund balance,” said Mathis.

Sistrunk said the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) had a lot to do with it as well.

“It does take a lot of burden off of your taxpayers. Let the folks that come into town and shop and do this stuff help pay for these projects so it isn’t a burden,” said Sistrunk.

It puts the county in a good financial position ahead of major projects that are in the works.

“We’re very conservative with our budgets so that we end up this way every year,” said Mathis.

Mathis said Lee County taxpayers benefit in the end.

“If we budget well and we do our jobs then we don’t ever have to increase our taxes on the citizens,” said Mathis.

This large surplus we’re told also creates a stable tax base for Lee County residents.

Going into 2020, leaders said we can expect to see more generators in county buildings and more precautions taken ahead of storms.

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