The Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission governing board on Thursday approved revised budgets for July 1-Oct. 31 and then for Nov. 1, 2014-Oct. 31, 2015.
LCPC Director Jeff Ricketson presented budget amendments board members had approved during their April 16 meeting because of a $52,000 shortfall created by Liberty County no longer contributing to the LCPC’s engineering and inspection services. The Liberty County Board of Commissioners decided to use its own engineering and inspections services, he said.
“As you know, everybody contributes to the LCPC proportionally,” Ricketson told the governing board of city mayors and the BoC chairman. “The contribution the municipalities have to pay for engineering and inspection services is going up because the county is no longer contributing to that. I had to reduce the whole annual budget by $52,000 to make up their portion. I was able to achieve this by deferring the (truck-bypass) plan and decreasing a merit increase for LCPC employees from 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent. I also had to eliminate our employees’ Christmas bonus.”
Ricketson said the LCPC’s proposed new budget is $931,825 a year, an increase of $7,583 over last year’s budget. He said he regrets having to cut the merit increases and bonus, but said they were not planning on doing anything with a proposed freight bypass during the next year.
LCPC Chairwoman and Flemington Mayor Sandra Martin said her city looked into hiring its own engineering and inspection services, but found the costs were greater than their portion of the increase in the amended budget. Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas, Walthourville Mayor Daisy Pray, Riceboro Mayor William Austin and Allenhurst Mayor Thomas Hines agreed.
Although Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards asked Hinesville Chief Financial Officer Kim Ryon about Hinesville’s portion of the LCPC’s engineering and inspection services, there were no specific questions posed about the amended budget. Martin then called for a motion to approve or disapprove it. All board members approved the revised budget.
“Thank you all for your patience and for working with us to amend the budget,” Ricketson said.
“Thank you for finding the money needed to reduce the budget,” Austin told him.
In other business Thursday, Ricketson said the search for a new transportation and land-use planner is ongoing. He showed the board a tall stack of resumes and applications, which he said represents more than 70 applicants.
There was discussion about when to hold the next board meeting. Ricketson said he didn’t anticipate anything that would call for discussion during the month of June, so he offered to postpone the next meeting until the third Wednesday in July. That date did not fit with the schedules of all the members, so he asked if anyone wanted to suggest another date.
Martin suggested that Ricketson wait until June to determine if there is a need for a July meeting. If there is, she said he could contact all board members via email.