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LCDA plans $3.4M in budget cuts
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The Liberty County Development Authority met Wednesday to discuss its preliminary budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which is down $3,471,313 from the previous year.

The meeting offered board members a chance to discuss line items on the budget before it goes to vote at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. 

The board’s finance committee has been working on the budget since early May, LCDA Director of Finance Carmen Cole said.

“We tried to reduce the expenses,” she said. “I believe we have been ultra-conservative with this year’s projections.”

Multiple factors contributed to the decline in budget revenue, including the loss of a one-time $1 million federal grant that was used for Firth Rixson site development, Cole said.

The organization also has a much smaller fund balance from fiscal year 2011 due to $1,103,556 in construction expenditures on Firth Rixson facilities and $2.4 million spent paying off the note for the Tradeport West land purchase.

To accommodate the reduction in revenue, the proposed budget has minor cuts in many categories — including the interest owed. The organization’s recent restructuring from variable- to fixed-rate loans reduces long-term costs up to six figures and gives the budget more stability over time, CEO Ron Tolley said.

Other cuts include eliminations related to Firth Rixson development, reductions in accounting costs related to debt restructuring and reorganizing how the finances for the Midcoast Regional Airport are handled.

John McIver, vice chairman of the LCDA and chairman of the Liberty County Commission, volleyed questions about expenditures to Cole, Tolley and members Robert Stokes and Brian Smith, who, as members of the finance committee, helped write the budget.

While McIver raised concerns about some expenditures not being itemized, Cole explained that many lines featured allocations for potential expenditures. Any money that is not spent either will be used to repay the LCDA’s $25,177,965.38 debt to SunTrust Bank or will be set aside as a balance for fiscal year 2013, she said.

Members Allen Brown, Jim Thomas, Al Williams and Paul Krebs were not present.

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