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.
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.