May 19, 2015
County Manager, Karen Degges and our Commissioners are “struggling” with cutting the budget. Don’t be fooled! They are not cutting the budget; they are cutting out some of the wish lists submitted by the departments and others that they fund with our tax dollars.
Here’s a post Karen Degges made today on the Rescue Me Ga Facebook page:
“As I said before, if you have a way to cut $1M out of our budget, send us the ideas. If you want to know what other departments have been asked to give up, come to the meetings. As one lady stated earlier, we have an entire county to run…not just Animal Control. We cut $80,000 out of the fire department’s budget the other night, and that’s a pretty important department too. The fire stations have pumper trucks parked in them that were cast-off’s from decades ago from other counties. EVERY county department has to be scrutinized in a budget year like this, whether we like it or not.”—Karen Degges, May 19, 2015 at 4:58pm
The truth is the current budget is $8.8M according to the BOC. The proposed wish list of items submitted for FY16 added up to $9.65M. That is a 9.66% increase. The only cuts being made are to that 9% of extra requests.
Ms. Degges mentions Fire being cut. The Fire/EMS current budget is $1,056,999; they have requested $1,180.371 or an increase of $123,372. This does not include equipment being purchased through SPLOST. If you cut $80,000, that still leaves an increase of $43,372.
Last week, Ms. Degges made the following comments on the RMG Facebook page to defend the budget showing the Closure of Animal Shelter.
“Yes, we are in a very tough budget year, and whether I personally like it or not, I was instructed to deliver to the board a balanced budget at various millage rates. Some commissioners want to lower the millage rate, so I was charged with finding ways to cut between $850,000 and $1,500,000 million dollars. To the person above who suggested we start cutting with our salaries…the entire county payroll (including the sheriff’s office, ambulance drivers and so on) is less than $500,000 so we could all be let go and it wouldn’t be enough money…that’s how much we have to cut this year. “ –Karen Degges, May 13 at 9:39am
The truth is her own budget report shows ONE DAY of pay for the county is $14,255.60 or $3,706,716 per year. If you add in the FICA and retirement that must be paid, one day is $15,975.32 or $4,153,583 per year. Look at this schedule for salary details.
We hear Ms. Degges tell these types of “facts” to the BOC at most every meeting, and not one commissioner questions it—like the Animal Control shelter spends $3500 or $7000 a month in utilities!
Yesterday Ms. Degges made a comment on the RMG Facebook page (yes, we Jasper County taxpayers are paying $40.87 an hour for Facebook posts, but they are interesting!) about Comm. Trammell and what he really meant in his comments about no one ever mentioning closing Animal Control.
“this kind of wild rumor was the kind of thing Commissioner Trammell was referring to the other night. Gene does suffer from memory issues (and hearing loss), as do many people his age, but that is no reason to be unkind, call them names or make fun of them. Only a few on here have done that, but come on folks, there is no need to sink to that level and pass judgement without even knowing him or knowing that he sometimes gets confused.”—Karen Degges, May 18, 2015 at 1:07pm
Folks, here’s the bottom line…the County Manager seems to be more interested in being on Facebook all day than taking care of the bigger issues we have in the county. How many people has she fired for supposedly not doing their jobs and/or being insubordinate? Our BOC considers increasing our taxes through budget increases while allowing playing on Facebook by the County Manager who makes $85,000 a year!
HOW TO CUT THE BUDGET
We do have some suggestions. Cut the $295,000 proposed increase in Public Works. All they do now is waste time and materials trying to fill potholes over and over again only to last a few days. Recreation fees need to be raised to help offset the actual costs of uniforms to decrease the amount of extra requested. Does Economic Development need a 79% increase or is this to fund another raise for the director?
Cut out bloated staff in the BOC office and have everyone actually work an 8 hour day! 3 code enforcement, 1 administrative specialist, 1 receptionist/clerk, 1 HR, 1 CFO, 1 County Manager, 1 EMS billing clerk/receptionist = $382,200 in salaries just downstairs in the BOC offices (not including free health insurance, cell phones, and other benefits).
If the budget is now $8.8M and at every BOC meeting where financials are presented it is stated that no one is ever over budget and everything is in “great shape” and it has been stated the county may have a $500,000 surplus, why does the budget need to be increased at all? Take the $500,000 surplus and divvy it out among the departments and keep the budget at $8.8M. That way, everyone gets a budget increase and the taxpayers won’t get such a big tax increase. But please quit telling us that you are “cutting the budget.”
Other budget requests—Appropriations—this includes things the BOC is not required to fund:
FY 2015 $711,696
FY2016 $827,690 requested +$123,372 increase
Additional money Requested by: Already Receive:
Library $9275 $89,320
Chamber of Commerce $5780 $32,620**Chamber salary $26,650
Family Connection $2500 $6,000
Health Department $4997 $49,970
Economic Development $47,511 $60,002 **David Dyer’s salary is $60,000 per year plus mileage and expenses
Sr. Center $30,856 $163,673
911 $21,950 $245,250
Where would you “cut” the budget?