Worried about a shrinking county tax base, the Long County Commission has delayed passage of a new annual budget and will operate under a resolution that allows them to continue with existing fund levels until a new budget can be adopted.
The continuing resolution was approved unanimously during a called meeting on June 27 by the commissioners, after County Administrator Frank Etheridge explained that the tax assessors were struggling to complete the new tax digest and might be finished within two weeks.
An approved tax digest is not required before a budget can be passed, but officials were concerned that if the tax digest is down sharply, deep cuts would be necessary in a plan adopted before the tax digest is made final. Liberty County’s tax digest is not yet approved but commissioners there have already adopted an annual budget on schedule. The new Liberty budget is increased by two percent over the previous year.
Government jurisdictions relying on continuing resolutions to operate usually reauthorize spending levels each month, but the Long County resolution extends spending authority “pending adoption of the Fiscal Year 2019 operating budget,” however long that might take.
Long County was in a similar situation last year; the commissioners were holding budget sessions in July 2017 for a budget that should have gone into effect July 1, 2017.
Before official adoption of the new budget the commissioners will hold at least one public hearing and make a copy of the proposed budget available for public inspection.
Long County officials have provided an Excel spreadsheet with zeros in all fields except those showing $500,000 in projected income from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Allocation of the revenue from SPLOST is $252,000 for roads, $125,000 for recreation, $63,000 for public safety and $60,000 for the city of Ludowici.
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