Bibb County commissioners’ decisions to be made today are about as big as the hole in their budget: About $14 million.
In a work session beginning at 9 a.m., commissioners are expected to try to find ways to close that budget gap. Commissioner Elmo Richardson, who chairs the finance committee, said he may suggest another $500,000 in cuts — but he also said projections for tax revenue has also fallen about $500,000.
Commissioners whittled away $4.5 million in their budget hearings. The gap initially stood at $18.5 million, almost entirely because of revenue lost by excess money from a special purpose local option sales tax. Revenues were projected at $72.2 million with expenses of $90.7 million.
Richardson has argued commissioners need to raise taxes by 2 mills, or about 20 percent, to make up for the 2-mill cuts begun two years ago when commissioners began refunding the money. Richardson has said the refund is finished, so the 2-mill cut needs to end as well. That would bring another $9 million but hurt prospects for a sales-tax vote next month.
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But the rest of the County Commission has struggled to come to consensus.
In the beginning talks, commissioners fought to protect all county employees and avoid the 2-mill tax cut. They tried to solve the 20-percent loss of revenue with 10-percent cuts across departments but couldn’t find enough to cut at that level without eliminating employee positions and slashing services.
One easy decision expected today: The use of an estimated $3.7 million in money not spent in the current budget. Other options include cutting a contribution to a trust fund for retirees’ health care, furloughs and layoffs.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.