The Long County commissioners plan to keep the tax millage for next year at 15.695 with no increase, but to do that they have to delay purchase of an ambulance and dip into their reserve funds.
The commissioners seemed to agree that a second ambulance was needed, especially for the Sand Hill area of Long County, but they found no way to fund it without raising taxes. Commission Chairman David Richardson who represents the Sand Hill said, “If we have to drop the ambulance . . . we just have to drop it. Next year we might have to go up a mill.” An ambulance costs more than $500,000 and brings with it a need for staffing, maintenance, fuel and other costs.
Long County has a healthy cash reserve and will use around $200,000 of that to keep the new budget out of the red. State law requires counties to balance their budgets. The draft budget on the table at a commission work session Wednesday showed $9,571,000 in revenue and an equal amount for expenditures.
The commission has set two public hearings on the budget for Sept. 18, one at 9 a.m. and one at 6 p.m. The morning session will also include a discussion of the classification and compensation plan for county employees.
On Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. the commissioners plan to adopt the budget. A technicality in state law requires that the budget be advertised as a tax increase even though the millage will remain at 15.695 mills.
The law defines growth of the tax digest as a tax increase unless the millage rate is cut by an amount equal to the digest growth.
A copy of the proposed budget will be available to the public in the board of commissioners’ office in the Long County courthouse.
Parker can be contacted by email at email@example.com.