Ankle monitoring funded, public defender not; VLCIA and VLPRA visible: Video Playlist @ LCC Budget Hearing 2012-06-19

Ankle monitoring is fully funded this coming fiscal year, with a 2% increase, and the Sheriff’s office accounts for 35% of the county’s budget, yet the Public Defender had to beg for more funds. The state-imposed property tax assessment cap has expired, but no increases in the tax digest are yet expected. Sales tax revenues are gradually increasing. The state is fiddling with motor vehicle license fees, and nobody can predict the effect of that. The Industrial Authority and Parks and Rec are now shown in the Lowndes County budget; they and other transfers out account for about 15% of the budget, specifically about 6% VLCIA and 7% VLPRA. All that and more at Tuesday’s budget hearing.

A copy of the actual budget will be up shortly. Meanwhile, here a video playlist for the Lowndes County budget public hearing of 19 June 2012.

Chairman Ashley Paulk was not there. Commissioner Crawford Powell chaired the meeting instead.

Parks and Rec’s 1.25 mil and Industrial Authority’s 1 mil are now shown along with the county’s 7.31 mils of property tax and integrated into the budget charts. They and other transfers out account for about 15% of general fund expenditures.

Finance Director Stephanie Black said

Your CHIP grant was not renewed.

That’s news to me, since I thought the Commission voted to renew it. Maybe she’s referring to some other CHIP grant. Also the law library was moved around in the budget. SPLOST 4, 5, and 6 are not paying for much now but debt payments. Could this be because the previous Commission spent the rest of SPLOST 6 on the county palace? Except some jail improvements scheduled from SPLOST 6.

There are some changes, such as about an 11.14% increase in expenditures (presumably on employees) due to health insurance and some other things. Income is projected to be up by $8 million due to increased taxes, by which I think she meant increased collections, plus an increase in stormwater license fees. General fund expenditures are up 19.29%.

The state tax assessment cap has expired, but no tax digest growth is expected. The state is changing motor vehicle licensing in 2013, but nobody has any way of predicting what effect that will have on county revenues.

Sales tax revenues are gradually increasing.

After the Budget Director’s presentation, the elected Commissioners had no questions or comments whatever.

Only two citizens spoke. The first, John Edwards, heads the Public Defender’s office which is funded by Lowndes County. He basically begged for more funding, since he’s had two people quit because he couldn’t adequately pay them.

The other citizen, Gretchen Quarterman, asked for a copy of the slides and packet the Commissioners were viewing. She was told there was a public copy available upstairs. So she went and photographed it; copy available soon on the LAKE web pages.

However, why exactly should citizens have to jump through hoops to see the county budget, which is about our tax dollars?

Video Playlist
Budget Public Hearing, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 19 June 2012.
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).