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Agencies state their financial cases
Liberty County commissioners hold daylong budget hearings
Jon Long chief deputy LSCO
Liberty County Sheriffs Office Chief Deputy Jon Long addresses the Liberty County commissioners during budget hearings in the Courthouse Annex on Thursday. - photo by Randy Murray

Several Liberty County agencies requested larger budget allotments during a daylong Liberty County commissioners meeting Thursday.

Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jon Long presented a list of items needed that called for an increase in LCSO’s budget. The list includes another investigator for the detective unit and a transport deputy for jail administration.

Big-budget items for capital requests include nine new patrol vehicles, 10 more Alco-Sensors (to conduct breath tests on drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol) and 20 sets of body armor.

Library Director Neal Vickers said a 22.65 percent increase over last year’s budget was necessary, mostly because of the new library that opened last year at the Liberty County Community Complex on Highway 84 near Midway and the new main library being built on Memorial Drive in Hinesville. He noted that the library does receive funding from Hinesville for the main library, but not the Community Complex library.

“They have broken ground on the new building,” Vickers said, joking about whether they can really complete it by January. “We need to hire three new people, two full-time and one part-time.”

Of the $79,384 increase in the proposed budget, he said $31,882 would be for the salaries for the new library positions.

Probate Court Judge Nancy Aspinwall submitted a budget request that asked for a slight increase, much of which would pay for a deputy clerk. She stressed the importance of the probate court as she submitted her budget request.

“(The probate court) is responsible for providing a wide range of services to the citizens of Liberty County,” Aspinwall said. “Our budget really has not increased that much. … We are not a money-making court. We are here to serve the citizens of our county.”

Although many departments asked for more money, some, such as the Public Health Administration and the Liberty County Department of Family and Children Services, were not asking for an increase.

DFCS Director Shawn Brown talked about what the agency had done and where it was going in the near future.

“What we’ve done in the last two years is forecast where we’re heading,” Brown said. “In (fiscal year) 2014, we were tasked with investigating 695 reports of maltreatment. Year-to-date in FY 2015, we’re already at 529. That 2014 report involved 420 children. That resulted in 47 children were served in foster homes. … I am proud to say (however) we were able to use our resources and funding in very productive ways and able to prevent 144 children from being displaced and entering into foster care.”

As she was presenting and explaining her budget request, Chief Assessor Glenda Roberts responded to questions from board members about re-evaluation of personal and commercial property in the county. She told the board that commercial and personal property was re-evaluated in 2013 and 2014.

She said there were no plans to re-evaluate property this year.

Her department is asking for a 7.32-percent increase.

County Coroner Reginald Pierce was the first department head to speak with commissioners. He, and the others who followed him, presented a budget chart that detailed expenses in fiscal 2013 and 2014 budgets and their projected needs for fiscal years 2015 and 2016.

Also presenting judicial-related budgets were Linnie Darden, juvenile-court judge; Melinda Anderson, magistrate judge; Barry Wilkes, clerk of superior court; Brandon Clark, public-defender program director; Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden; and State Court Solicitor Jeff Osteen.

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