May 10, 2017
Comm. Don Jernigan seems to think if the county brings in more taxes, then citizens get more services. It is hard to tell where that idea comes from. After living here 40 years, and my taxes are now 10 times more, I can’t think of any additional services I have received. Government has grown with more county employees, but more services???
The BOC has been meeting once or twice a week for the last month or two discussing the FY2018 budget, the 2018 SPLOST, and a $7.5M bond to finance all the wants they have. This past Monday (5/8/17), they concentrated on the FY2018 budget.
The Sheriff has been the focus of attention during all these work sessions--budget, SPLOST, and 30-year bond. Monday night was no exception. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half, with 30 minutes of that time used discussing the Sheriff’s budget and his proposals for in-house medical staff in the jail, 10% raises for his employees, four more new patrol cars, and various other items.
The projected revenue for FY18 is $9,852,182 with the current millage rate—meaning if your property value went up, you get a tax increase. The FY17 budget is $10,075,098. There is a slight shortfall and the discussion centered around CUTTING, as Comm. Henry proposed, or just using Fund Balance as Comm. Pennamon proposed.
Comm. Henry also repeatedly pushed for a lower millage rate so property owners would not get another big tax increase. As TWG continues to point out, property taxes have increased over 20% over the past 3-4 years. Instead of making cuts, the County Manager suggested lowering contingency to $150K. He also suggested taking $150K out of the curbside account. Comm. Henry again said, “Cuts can be made instead of using Fund Balance.”
Comm. Henry said there was 2% growth in revenue, but 9% growth in the budget. Comm. Pennamon said mandated increases in health insurance and retirement would increase the budget by $150K without adding anything else. All commissioners agreed to ignore the FY18 requests submitted and start with the FY17 budget. This is the ONE THING that should be done every year, rather than “cut” from the increases and say the budget was cut while it increases from the previous year.
Comm. Jernigan said the rollback rate was too much, and he wanted to give citizens all they want. Comm. Henry says, “NO, we’re giving the employees what they want.” Comm. Henry and Comm. Luke both said they wanted to use the rollback rate. Comm. Jernigan wants to use the higher current rate, and it appeared that Comm. Pennamon was leaning that way too. Comm. Salmon seemed to lean toward the rollback rate.
The following conversation is interesting. Are services being cut, as Comm. Jernigan thinks or are Comm. Luke and Comm. Henry correct, and services are being maintained?
There is ONE BIG CUT the BOC could make, but never mentioned it. The county attorney , David Ozburn, sat through the meeting, earned $200+, and did absolutely nothing. His presence at a budget work session is ridiculous and wasteful. The county attorney doesn’t need to be at meetings unless there are legal issues to discuss. If any question arises, a telephone call can be made and several hundred dollars a meeting can be saved.
Contact your commissioner and let them know you don’t want another tax increase! Tell him to stick with the rollback rate!
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.