The Liberty County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a fiscal-year 2015 budget of $25,961,583 at its mid-month meeting Thursday.
The final budget represents a slight increase from the one tentatively adopted at the board’s prior meeting, stemming from last-minute open-enrollment insurance revenue worth roughly $30,000.
County Chief Financial Officer Kim McGlothlin reminded the board that the budget did not allow provisions for Justice Center bond payments or public-safety vehicles, due to their inclusion on November’s special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) referendum.
“If, for some reason, SPLOST does not pass, we will all be coming back here, because the general fund will have to bear the burden of those costs,” McGlothlin said.
District 1 Commissioner Marion Stevens clarified the implication.
“You’re saying that if (SPLOST) doesn’t pass, then we’ll be coming back and looking at a tax increase?” he asked.
“I don’t see any other way,” McGlothlin replied.
According to McGlothlin, Justice Center bond payments and public-safety vehicle costs total in excess of $2 million — money that will have to be drawn from the general fund if voters do not approve the SPLOST referendum.
McGlothlin also updated the commission on the state of the county’s finances, saying the tax commissioner reported a collection rate of 94.7 percent as of Thursday.
There has been a change made in the county’s billing cycle. According to McGlothlin, previous cycles ran two months behind — services rendered in June, for example, would be due in August, which “really slows down the whole reporting process and your cash flow,” she said.
Starting next month, services provided in June will be billed July 1 and due at the end of July.
In other business:
• County engineer Trent Long updated the commission on various county projects, including repairs on Brights Lake Road that are slated to be complete at the end of July.
• Liberty County Board of Assessors’ Chief Appraiser Glenda Roberts gave a presentation on rural land revaluations and millage rates.
• Matthew Barrow of P.C. Simonton and Associates updated the board on the new rural water system in the Holmestown Road/Lewis Frasier area and the Central Avenue project.
More on the SPLOST referendum, property-tax assessments and millage rates will appear in upcoming editions of the Courier.