Houston sees tight budget year coming

wcrenshaw@macon.comMay 7, 2013 

PERRY -- In a couple of weeks Houston County department heads will begin meeting with Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker to discuss the coming year’s budget, and they probably shouldn’t get too optimistic.

At the end of Tuesday’s commission meeting, Stalnaker said stagnant revenues will make it a challenge to balance the budget for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

“I think this is going to be the toughest year as far as balancing the budget that we have experienced in many, many, many years,” he said.

The county’s budget is primarily funded by property taxes and fees, and Stalnaker said both have been flat.

“This is going to be extremely tight this year,” he said. “There is going to be significant reductions and belt tightening in order to live within our means, unless the board chooses to raise taxes, and I haven’t heard any of you say that.”

Other board members chimed in their opposition to raising taxes.

“I’m in no way in favor of any increases in taxes,” Commissioner Tom McMichael said. “The population is already burdened enough with taxes.”

After the meeting, Stalnaker said he expects the budget will include no funding for new positions, which was also the case last year. Travel and training expenses will also be scrutinized closely.

The county gave employees a 3-percent raise last year, but Stalnaker said he isn’t certain a raise will be in the budget this year.

“That is something we want to do,” he said. “We are going to do our level best to do it but we have got to have the cooperation of the department heads to do that.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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