Houston County commissioners are making final preparations for next year’s budget. They will give a detailed spending plan next week.
“Overall I think this will be a good budget that you’ll see on Monday. We appreciate our department heads being frugal with the tax dollars that citizens send us up here,” said Chairman Mark Culver.
That limited spending is important as ever. With expenses expected to be up, and revenue down the county will dip into reserves to balance the $39 million budget.
“The major factor with the county is that our primary source of revenue is property tax versus the city which is sales tax. That’s good and bad. The good times if your primary source is sales tax you’ve got a lot of money coming in. Ours is much more stable,” said Houston County’s Chief Administrative Officer Bill Dempsey.
The county plans to complete two major projects next year.
The ATRIP project will resurface roads and cost about $2.5 million. The ESCO project will make energy efficiency changes and cost the county about $5 million. Leaders said the energy savings will pay for themselves.
Dempsey said, “The commission is taking an optimistic and conservative approach. We have gone from a situation four or five years ago, we were not in a position we would like to be in financially.”
But they are slowly getting there.
With this budget, employees can look forward to one percent cost of living raise. Also, the county plans to purchase patrol cars for the sheriff’s office and taking the first step to introduce a new garbage collection system.
Something not included in the budget is additional employees.
The sheriff's office had requested funds for five more deputies but leaders say they weren't in a position to add to the labor force.
The commission will vote on the proposed budget Monday.