During last week’s Liberty County Board of Commissioners meeting, Chief Financial Officer Kim McGlothlin presented the proposed budget for fiscal-year 2016, which will start July 1.
It calls for a 3 percent increase, much of which is attributed to the loss of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues, she said.
McGlothlin said original requests from county departments totaled nearly $30.5 million.
“We adjusted both expenditures and revenues for a net decreased adjustment of about $2.58 million,” she said, bringing the total proposed budget to about $27.9 million. Even that is an increase from this year’s budget, which was about $27 million. Next year’s spending plan calls for an increase of $846,614, or a little more than 3 percent.McGlothlin said 63 percent of the total revenue comes from property taxes. The next largest revenue source is sales and use tax, at 11 percent.
The budget calls for a large increase in capital outlay, which is money spent to acquire, maintain or repair assets. This can include land, facilities or other business necessities. McGlothlin said that capital outlay will rise more than sevenfold, from $80,150 in 2015 to $689,936 next year. Budgeted capital-outlay items are six patrol vehicles for the sheriff’s office; one road-department truck; one ambulance; one mosquito truck; one animal-control truck; and the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units for five variable air-volume boxes in the courthouse annex building.
“Those are the items that normally would have been captured under SPLOST and now have to be borne by the general fund,” she said. SPLOST expired March 31 after county voters rejected renewing the 1 percent sales tax in November.
McGlothlin showed a chart of the functional breakdown of services. Public safety is 37 percent of the budget, at $10.36 million. McGlothlin said public safety is all of county’s law enforcement, animal control, 911 transfer, fire services, EMS and emergency management. The operation of general government is 27 percent, at $7.62 million.
“Sixty-eight percent of the budget is mandated by law; those are services that are not self-sustaining. They are meant to be provided through the use of taxation,” McGlothlin said. “Only 3 percent is completely discretionary. The only source of revenue that you (the county) have control over are property taxes, the millage rate.”
The proposed budget recommendations are based on the best estimates at this time, McGlothlin said. The final budget will be approved at the commissioners’ next meeting, scheduled for June 18.
Chairman Donald Lovette also thanked the department heads for attending the meeting to hear the proposed budget.