The Long County Commission has approved an annual budget that shows general fund revenues of almost $10 million. Major changes during the budget writing process include an agreement with Sheriff Craig Nobles not to fund a major law enforcement complex in the current year and purchase of the old high school to provide badly needed office space.
After public hearings the budget was passed July 2 by a 4-1 vote with Commissioner David Richardson voting no. Richardson said excessive pay raises in the budget caused him to vote no. Commissioner Mike Riddle said he also opposed pay raises but he ended up voting for the budget.
Although no one spoke during the legally required sessions scheduled for public comment on the budget, one citizen stayed until the very end of the meeting and began to ask questions about the budget. Although the designated time for questions had passed, Chairman Robert Parker and others seemed willing to answer specific questions.
But the man sitting in the front row of the audience said, and repeated, “I want to know how you’re going to spend the money.” He was given a copy of the 68-page budget document and the opportunities for public comment were explained to him but he continued to say, “How are you going to spend the money?”
As the meeting broke up the citizen was seen talking with Parker and other commissioners as well as county finance chief Bernice Johnson and County Administrator Chuck Scragg.
The Long County Board of Education agreed to sell the old high school building to the county for $1, a price the commissioners agreed to while acknowledging that major work would be necessary to make the site suitable for office space.
Scragg told the commissioners that Ludowici’s historic railroad depot had been professionally surveyed and, while requiring some structural work, was suitable for restoration/renovation. Scragg said several sources of funds and other help were available. Some work would need to be done by professionals, he said, but volunteers, prison workers and other sources could be tapped for a lot of the labor.
The Long County Commission’s next regular meeting will be August 6.
Parker can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.