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Long County tax hike was needed
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Editor, This is in response to the story about the Long County Commission passing the budget in the Jan. 6 issue.
Recently there have been lots of speculation and concern over the budget for Long County, and the necessary tax increase.
As the chairman of the commission and the person who acts as the administrator of the county, I feel obligated to assure anyone interested that there absolutely was a shortfall in the 2009 budget. The mill rate was not set to cover the budget that was established and this does not take any budget experience to figure out. The numbers that I am talking about can be figured out with elementary math.
The vehicles placed in the budget and approved by a 3-2 vote were absolutely needed by the sheriff’s office and for the continued efforts to save county money. One vehicle was a van that will be used to transport inmates from Brantley County to Long County on court dates. In the past we would tie up at least four deputies running to every surrounding county, picking up inmates and then returning them after court. With the procedure that we have put into place this should create a major savings in both jail costs and overtime.
The second vehicle that will be purchased will be for the investigator staff. This vehicle will replace a vehicle that repair costs and replacement tires would exceed a reasonable percentage of replacement cost not to do so. The third vehicle will be replacement of a road deputy vehicle that has approximately 300,000 miles and this is not a frivolous purchase.
The purchase of the seven new cars that is referenced was not general fund expenditure for the taxpayers of the county. If these vehicles were not purchased with grant funding that was totally acquired by the sheriff’s office there would have been a need for several tax dollars to purchase those vehicles. The last vehicles purchased for the sheriff’s office with tax dollars was in fiscal year 2006-07.
All purchase documents and employee hiring practices are open records, and open for any questions. Our hiring practices around here are not up to the standards that they should be and I can assure everyone that we are working on a personnel manual that should correct the problems that have existed in our county for many years, according to documents that I have researched.
The problems that have existed in Long County for years will not be corrected immediately, but with public involvement and participation we can definitely make a change. I welcome the opportunity to sit down with any member of this community and discuss any issue you might have. Please feel free to email me any comments or suggestions.
Please remember one thing about your taxes: The people responsible for the unfortunate increase in your taxes are the commissioners who voted for the increase, the school board members who voted yes, and your governor who removed your homestead tax relief grant. The tax commissioner nor any other constitutional officer has the privilege of voting for this very unfavorable task. Their only role in this is to present a budget they think will operate their office for the year.

Bobby Walker, Chairman, Long County Commission

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