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Veto postpones new DFCS building
Gov Sonny Perdue
Gov. Sonny Perdue
It’s back to playing the waiting game for a new Department of Family and Children Services building in Liberty County.
Although the Georgia General Assembly earmarked $257,000 in the state’s 2008 budget for the county to begin work on a new DFACS building, the money was averted when Gov. Sonny Perdue used his line-item veto  before approving the budget this past month.
The funds were part of a $721,000 funding package lawmakers granted the Department of Human Resources for “expansions, renovations or relocations” of DFACS offices in Liberty, as well as Oconee, Walton, Carroll and Treutlen counties.
According to the governor, however, legislators overstepped their boundaries by specifying which offices could receive funding.
“This seeks to circumvent the policies and procedures of the State Property Officer and the Department to identify the highest-need projects on a statewide basis,” Perdue said in his veto message. “The department is authorized to utilize these funds in accordance with its general law powers and the purpose of the program.”
In other words, the money allotted to DHR will stay with the department, but it has to revert to the standard practice of funding offices based on the state’s priority list, not the wishes of lawmakers.
The Liberty County DFACS office, deemed inadequate and cramped for years, currently ranks a low 24th out of 53 buildings across Georgia.
Based on this placement, state Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) said it might be another several years before the county receives funding for a new building.
“We only do three, four or five (buildings) a year and if Liberty stays in the 20s, it could be another five years before its turn,” Johnson said.
The senator said it was unclear why the county did not place higher on the list, but DHR is making revisions and the county’s state delegation is working to have Liberty moved up the priority chart.
An official revised priority list is expected to be available in about two weeks.
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