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Residents talk budget
Citizens want 'history' addressed in $25M proposal
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Public comments on the county's $25 million proposed FY 09 budget dealt with a subject some might find surprising: history.
Gary Walker, speaking for the citizens advisory committee, said the group had heard from several citizens who were concerned with preservation of the county's historic sites and structures.
One used the former Old Sunbury Road as an example, saying the commissioners had colluded with the Liberty County Development Authority to construct a million-square-foot Target warehouse on the historic road, which had been determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register.
Commission Chairman John McIver, who is also a member of the LCDA, said, "We are trying to protect what is left." He said no money was allocated specifically for preservation but that the commissioners worked with the historic and cultural advisory committee of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission. He added that he was willing to cooperate with other groups such as the historical association as well.
Walker also expressed citizens' concerns over the high cost of fuel and its effect on county operations. County Administrator Joey Brown said the county departments had made their best estimates of fuel needs and were making efforts at conservation.
Discussion included the possibility of having inspections performed in a given area of the county at one time to reduce the number and length of trips inspectors would need to make.
Local historian Otis Amason quizzed the commissioners about sales tax funds which had been collected to assist features along the Liberty Trail. He said as much as $200,000 was available for projects such as the Midway Museum, of which he is the chairman.
McIver responded that the state laws had changed and that SPLOST funds could no longer be used on sites which a governmental entity did not own or lease.  
Amason also criticized the handling of the former Old Sunbury Road, saying there was now no emergency or alternative access to parts of East Liberty, "since y'all closed the Old Sunbury Road."
County Chief Financial Officer Kim McGlothlin gave a summary of the proposed 09 budget, which is $42,777 less than the current year's budget.
The largest chunk of the budget - 65 percent - pays for mandated services which state, federal or other regulations require the county to provide. The salaries of most public officials are set by state law and the county is required to provide funding for the operation of the courts, law enforcement, emergency management, public health and similar services. Mandated services amount to $16,358,452 in the proposed budget.
Essential services which cost $8,224,606 - 33 percent of the proposed budget - are those which may not be required by law, but which officials feel the county cannot do without. Examples of these are roads, fire protection, insurance, ambulance service and mosquito control.
The remainder of the budget - two percent, less than half a million dollars - is traditionally considered discretionary. The chamber of commerce, a school resource officer and financing for the Multi-agency Crack Enforcement (MACE) squad are included as discretionary budget items.
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