Macon-Bibb County buses and libraries will continue operating and recreation and parks departments will not shut down after changes were made to the budget Tuesday.
However, county officials are expected to debate in the coming weeks how much the millage rate would go up to cover certain services versus cuts being made to other parts of the budget.
The millage rate would jump another 4 mills to cover the budget adjustments made Tuesday.
The County Commission voted to restore a total of $5.1 million in funding for the Middle Georgia Regional Library System and Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority. There was also another $7.5 million designated for the Parks and Recreation Department, Bowden Golf Course and Parks and Beautification departments.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Telegraph
Those three Macon-Bibb departments would have closed at the end of July if the funding had not been restored. Library and transit officials have said they would have closed without the money from the county.
Commissioner Larry Schlesinger said he believes across the board cuts may be needed to prevent the millage rate from going up for a second consecutive year.
"I voted for a 3 mill increase reluctantly last year," Schlesinger said. "I promised that I would not do that again and I’m just going to keep my word."
The commission will have to approve a new millage rate for the county in August. If the new rate doesn't go up enough to cover the changes approved Tuesday, then those funds could be cut out again, Mayor Robert Reichert said.
Over the last two months, commissioners discussed various budget proposals after Reichert's proposed a 3.7 mil rate increase to cover about $15 million in additional expenses.
"What I don't want to get into is a budget with a size 12 foot and yet you only have a size 10 shoe to fit into there," he said Tuesday.
Several hundred people attended Tuesday’s meeting, with several dozen people speaking about the impact of higher property taxes, the potential of the bus and library systems shutting down and how much funding museums and other agencies should receive.
There was also a small protest outside the Government Center, including one person holding a sign asking county officials to save the libraries.
Just days before the start of the new fiscal year, commissioners approved a $149 million budget that cut out $10 million for outside agencies and another $7-plus million from recreation and parks departments and the golf course
Some commissioners voted again Tuesday against certain outside agencies receiving funding, with Commissioners Joe Allen and Valerie Wynn citing a need to spend more time determining how much should be cut from each agency.
One group that did not receive any money was Navicent Health. A proposed $451,000 for indigent care did not get into the budget after some commissioners questioned paying the hospital when it's faring better financially than Macon-Bibb.
The commission, however, did give back $1.1 million for the Bibb County Department of Public Health and for River Edge Behavioral Health.
The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Tubman Museum and Museum of Arts and Sciences were also among those to get money as part of the budget amendments.
The county’s financial obligations will expand in the new budget. Macon-Bibb faces rising health care costs, covering a full year of raises for deputies and firefighters and $4 million needed to cover a depleted retirement benefits fund.