Bibb County public hearing on budget draws no residents

pramati@macon.comJune 20, 2013 

No Bibb County residents showed up for Thursday morning’s public hearing on the county’s fiscal 2014 budget.

County commissioners are scheduled to formally adopt the budget at 9 a.m. June 27.

Though commissioners have spent the past several weeks putting together a spending plan that will cover the entire fiscal year, the budget they’ll approve next week covers just the first half of the year -- July 1 to Dec. 31.

The new consolidated Macon-Bibb County government begins operations on Jan. 1, absorbing both the city and county budgets for the remainder of fiscal 2014.

Commissioners put together an $86.8 million general fund budget for the upcoming year. With projected revenues of $79 million, that would leave a shortfall of about $7.7 million. That gap would be covered by the county’s reserves, which now stand at about $29 million.

The budget for the first half of fiscal 2014 that commissioners will actually approve is $59.8 million. Finance Director Debra Martin said the first half budget is higher because a lot of the county’s annual contracts are typically paid at the beginning of the new fiscal year. In addition, certain expenses -- new sheriff’s uniforms, for example -- have to be purchased before Jan. 1.

Martin told commissioners Thursday she doesn’t expect the Bibb County budget to have a deficit, since the county’s revenue is much higher, with property taxes being collected through November.

Commission Chairman Sam Hart said he hopes some savings will be realized and projected deficits lowered when the city and county merge on Jan. 1. As individual departments merge, some projected costs likely will be less. In addition, Hart said it’s likely that some current employees might retire or not take a position in the new government, which could further reduce costs.

Hart said the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia is working with the city and county to merge both general funds and the respective budgets for the second half of fiscal 2014.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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