Houston County approves $52 million budget

wcrenshaw@macon.comJune 24, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- The Houston County commissioners on Tuesday approved a budget for the coming fiscal year that basically is a repeat of last year’s budget.

The general fund budget, which is paid for primarily with property taxes, is $52.2 million, about a half million dollars more than last year.

The board approved the budget unanimously for the fiscal year that begins July 1. It includes a 3-percent raise for county employees and does not call for an increase in the millage rate, which affects property taxes.

The county did not tap into its reserve fund to balance the budget. The reserve fund is intended for the county to use in difficult times and to pay bills until taxes are collected.

“We will not use any fund balance to balance the (fiscal 2015) general fund budget,” Commission chairman Tommy Stalnaker said. “We are blessed not to have to do that. So many governments have to go into the reserves in order to balance their budget.”

The budget maintains a freeze on merit and longevity pay increases for county employees.

Stalnaker said had it not been for the cost saving measures of employees, the county would not have been able to provide the cost-of-living raise.

He said the county is debt-free aside from one loan for a sales tax-funded project that should be paid off soon.

“If we were loaded up with debt, we would be in serious financial trouble, as many local governments are throughout the state,” he said.

The millage rate has been at 9.95 mills for the past five years. Stalnaker said it has increased just one mill in the past 24 years.

“That’s extremely good for any government to be able to say that,” he said. “One-mill growth in 24 years speaks volumes to the financial constraints in this county.”

The total budget is $110.1 million. That includes separately funded operations such as the special purpose local option sales tax, E-911, the water system, the landfill and others.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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