May 29, 2016
Last Monday night 3 commissioners, Trammell, Pennamon, and Salmon, rammed through the FY17 budget without ever advertising, allowing any citizen input or even allowing the public to view the budget.
Despite the fact the agenda listed FY 17 Budget Discussion, Gene Trammell was intent on passing the budget. Comm. Bruce Henry tried to make clear they were not at that meeting to pass the budget. Listen to what was said during Commissioner Comments:
As the discussion progressed, including meeting on Thursday night to finalize the budget, Trammell wanted to have a motion to set the millage rate. Salmon immediately jumped in and made the motion with Pennamon seconding, and the 3 voted to approve it. If you were at the meeting, it was obvious Luke and Henry were not expecting this. Watch this video:
Luke and Henry did not vote for the budget. The 3 that did vote for this budget did it illegally! That’s right, none of the State laws concerning the adoption of budgets were followed.
Since all these Commissioners are “certified” (at about $10,000 each of taxpayers’ money) and have attended numerous ACCG & CVIG classes, you would think they would know about the “Legal Requirements for Adopting a budget ordinance or resolution” put out by ACCG. With their legal counsel sitting right there (at every meeting), you would think he would have known about the State Law–OCGA 36-81-5(f).
The budget voted on May 23, 2016 was adopted illegally due to:
- It was not advertised as required by law
- It was not put out for public view as required by law
- There was no public hearing as required by law
- It was not even on the agenda –what was on the agenda was budget discussion. (Old Business: 1. FY2017 Budget Discussion), not budget adoption.
In order to be a legal budget all these things must take place:
- The board of commissioners must hold at least one public hearing on the budget. O.C.G.A. § 36-81-5(f).
- The public hearing must be held at least one week before the adoption of the budget. O.C.G.A. § 36-81-5(f).
- A notice of the public hearing must be prominently advertised at least one week in advance in a newspaper of general circulation.
- A prominent notice of the meeting to adopt the budget ordinance/resolution must be published in a newspaper of general circulation (in a location other than where the legal notices are published) at least one week before the meeting to adopt the budget. O.C.G.A. §§ 36-81-6(a) and 36-81-5(e).
This means a legal budget cannot possibly be voted on until June 16th because the BOC must advertise, hold a public hearing, and then hold an advertised meeting to approve the budget and to set the millage rate.
Hopefully during the next two weeks the BOC can find a way to cut the budget and not use “fund balance” of $488,520 and another $58,955 of curbside money to pay for the expenditures over the revenues. This BOC has used “fund balance” every year they have ever set the budget instead of making expenditures the same as revenues.
All commissioners need to be involved in setting the budget, not just two and the County Manager. The 2 commissioners (Luke & Henry) that voted against this budget have another chance to make things right if they can find one other commissioner to do what is best for the taxpayers of Jasper County.
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.