What happens when your bills are more than your income? Essentially, thats what the Macon-Bibb County Commission is wrestling with in creating its fiscal 2015 budget. The mayor has certain priorities -- equalizing the tax bills between city and county taxpayers. A laudable goal for sure, but whats on the table that is deemed not a priority? The Museum of Arts and Sciences, Tubman African American Museum, Douglass Theatre, adult literacy programs, Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Office and Middle Georgia Community Food Bank are on that nonpriority list and the mayor has proposed eliminating the $857,200 thats in the current years budget.
So what to do and what are the consequences? The Museum of Arts and Sciences would have to cut programs and people (the county is one of the museums trustees). The Tubman might have to punt entirely until it raises more funds. The Douglass (building owned by the county) would probably have to close. The other program cuts put at-risk communities in more jeopardy.
A budget, by its very nature, lays out a communitys priorities. If equalizing taxes is the prime directive, well have to live with the consequences of a less vibrant, less appealing area.
However, it seems that somewhere in a $158.7 million budget, there might be a little room to wiggle $900,000. These are difficult decisions that the commission is charged in making.
The mayors call for compromise is welcomed. Will our community settle for fiscal austerity while the quality of life of the area takes a fatal hit? We will see.