Budget Telling Tonight @ LCC 2013-06-25

Tonight you can go be told what the county’s budget will be, 5PM at the county palace. If you want to see the proposed budget, you’ll have to go their beforehand and view the one paper copy they are required by law to show you. They say they’re short of money, so why are they wasting taxpayer funds suing a legitimate business?

On the county’s online calendar: Budget Public Hearing (6/18/2013)

The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing for the purpose of considering
the Fiscal Year 2014 proposed budget on the following dates:

June 18, 2013 at 5:30 p.m.

June 25, 2013 at 5:00 p.m.

Lowndes County Commission Chambers
327 N. Ashley St.
Valdosta, GA

A copy of the proposed budget is available for public review in the office of the County Clerk.
For questions please call 671-2400.

Kay Harris wrote for the VDT 19 June 2013, Lowndes County facing budget woes,

In a brief meeting Tuesday evening, Lowndes County Commissioners and a small audience reviewed a power point presentation compiled by Finance director Stephanie Black, which shows a rather bleak picture for this fiscal year….

Facing a reduction in revenues from sales and property tax collections, the overall budget for the county for FY2014 is down 7.28 percent from the previous year, to $87,392,529.

Funny how that happens when you base your taxes on sales tax and there’s a recession. There’s more in the VDT story about SPLOST IV being tapped out, the remainder of SPLOST V being earmarked for specific projects, and SPLOST VI collections ending in one more year. If they hadn’t jumped up the electon for SPLOST VII to last year and larded it with two big questionable building projects (a new library building when they never even considered using the old federal building, and a new auditorium), maybe they’d have SPLOST VII already. Maybe this time they’ll put things on the list for SPLOST VII that the people actually want and hold public hearings before they finalize the list so they can find out.

Despite savings in several areas, including the solid waste disposal expenses, the decrease in tax revenues and increased costs, despite maintaining or decreasing current funding levels for departments and agencies, paints a dismal picture for county government.

So far as we can tell by the inadequate county accounting, for the solid waste collection centers, the county could have just raised the $100 dollar fee for the cards to $150 and closed the budget shortfall, also avoiding any need to sue anybody. People who didn’t want to pay the $150 could have signed up with Veolia or Deep South Sanitation. Now people may get stuck with ADS, whose fees will very likely go up, quite possibly to more than $150/year.

Oh, and during this period of recession and county budget shortfall, the Industrial Authority kept trying to push on us a private prison (like the one that may still bankrupt Irwin County) and a biomass incinerator (like the one that is helping bankrupt Harrisburg, PA) both of which turned out to have public opposition and no customers. Why did VLCIA continue to get full funding during that entire period? Its charter doesn’t say it shall get 1 mil of tax money. It says:

The County of Lowndes is hereby authorized to levy and collect an annual ad valorem tax not to exceed two (2) mills for developing and promoting industry and agriculture, and is hereby directed to pay to the authority all funds derived from such levy to be used for the purposes provided herein.

That’s a maximum of 2 mills, not a minimum of 1 mil. The minimum is what it used to be: zero mills. What the County Commission gaveth, the County Commission could take away, or at least adjust. Instead of guaranteeing bonds for VLCIA to buy land for industrial parks that mostly sit empty. VLCIA does seem to be trying for better projects lately. But why was reducing their budget never discussed, and how about asking them to sell some of that unused land if they don’t find some use for it soon? Proceeds could go to pay down those bonds.