Bibb commission adopts 2010 budget

The Bibb County Commission adopted a $115.1 million budget Monday, which includes an $89.7 million general fund, and anticipates a one-third of a mill tax increase.

The millage increase would account for about $1.4 million needed to balance the fiscal 2010 budget, which goes into effect Wednesday.

But depending on how the tax digest turns out, Commission Chairman Sam Hart said he thinks there’s a “good chance” the county won’t need to raise the millage rate.

A 3.5 percent increase in new growth in the tax digest would prevent such a move, he said, noting he’s hopeful that will happen.

Commissioner Lonzy Edwards cast the lone vote against the budget.

The commission should have gone back and asked departments, not taxpayers, to come up with the $1.4 million, which accounts for a little less than 2 percent of the general fund budget, he said.

“If we can’t find less than 2 percent in an $89 million budget, then we’re doing something wrong,” he said.

For taxpayers, a one-third of a mill increase would represent about $13 in additional taxes on a $100,000 home.

The move also calls into question what the commission will do when faced with rolling back the millage rate as a result of the recent countywide property revaluation, Edwards said.

The law requires governments to roll back the millage rate after a property revaluation to prevent them from receiving a tax windfall because of increased property values.

However, governments can choose to keep some of that revenue if they advertise a tax increase.

Hart said he still plans to roll back most, if not all, of the increase expected from the recent revaluation.

Commissioners will look at setting the millage rate around August.

Depending on how many property owners appeal before the July 6 deadline, they may have to seek permission to use a temporary digest until a new one can be approved. During the budgeting process, commissioners eliminated vacant positions, cut out salary raises for employees, reduced the county’s contribution to a trust that pledges money toward its future liabilities and denied funding increases to almost all outside agencies.

They also reduced the amount of funding to The Medical Center of Central Georgia, despite a strong showing at a public hearing from doctors and nurses pleading otherwise.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.