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Where your county tax dollar goes
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Many of us may wonder where our own income goes. Probably an equally common question is what the government does with its money.
In the case of Liberty County, answers are available. The county divides its expenditures of tax funds into eight general areas; public safety, general government, judicial, public works, housing and development, culture and recreation, health and welfare and debt service.
Commission Chairman John McIver pointed out that many of the items in the county budget are beyond the commissioners' control:
"Mandated services will always be in your budget. That's a given."
He said some help is received from the state in areas like roads and health.
"But we still have to do our part."
McIver praised county employees who have cooperated in limiting expenditures.
"They are very, very good."
With careful stewardship, McIver said the county had been able to keep a five-month operating reserve in hand.
The smallest county budget category is debt service, a penny out of every dollar, and it all goes for one purpose: paying off the bonds for the old hospital. The hospital authority abandoned the renovated facility that stood at the corner of Highway 84 and Fraser Drive to move into Liberty Regional Medical Center on Highway 196.
The authority could not sell the building or property, and after several years the county took over the land and the still-owed debt.
The largest amount coming out of your county tax dollar -- 38 cents -- is for public safety, $8,898,336 in the current budget.
A large chunk of the public safety budget is for the sheriff's deputies who patrol the county for law enforcement and investigate reports of crimes. Almost $2 million goes for these people and their cars, equipment, training and other support.
Jail operations, a traditional problem for many local governments, cost Liberty County $3.8 million. The county's 911 service costs $765,845; vice control, $691,580; fire protection, $313,247 and traffic control, $312,994.
Other public safety costs are:
Animal control     $245,229
Walthourville deputy    $217,915
MACE    $200,022
Emergency management    $165,853
School resource officers    $58,033
DARE    $57,085
Flemington deputy    $56,976
Coroner/medical examiner    $56,529
EMS    $32,961
The category called general government takes 22 cents out of every tax dollar and it includes a variety of services, including the election board and staff and the expense of holding elections.
The salaries of most county employees and officials are paid from the general government account, as is insurance, building and ground maintenance and engineering.
The 15 cents that comes out of your tax dollar for the judiciary goes to pay judges and others needed to keep the court system operating. Public defenders are funded along with superior, state, probate, juvenile and magistrate's courts.
The clerk of superior court gets much of this item, with more than $1 million for jury administration and general support of the courts.
Public works gets a lot of attention from citizens who want roads scraped or potholes filled, but it gets by with eight cents out of every county tax dollar.
With seven cents of each county dollar, the housing and development program pays for planning and zoning services, economic development, the airport and similar items.
Culture and recreation receive six percent of the county's budget, $1,038,124, most of which goes for the Liberty County Recreation Department. Library administration gets $366,459.
Health and welfare are allocated three cents out of every county dollar. Public health administration gets most of that, $289,437, and mosquito control takes another large chunk, $228,851.
Other health and welfare costs are $30,000 for Diversity Health Center and an equal amount for drug abuse prevention. Also included are $5,000 for food stamps and funds for DFACS and community services.
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