The Columbia County Commission unanimously approved the county government’s $190 million budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year at Tuesday’s meeting.
Commission Chairman Ron Cross said the balanced budget was hammered out over several weeks of trimming requests from department heads to a manageable number that did not require a property tax increase.
“It is easy to balance a budget when you keep raising taxes, but it isn’t so easy when you don’t,” he said.
Commissioners Ron Thigpen and Bill Morris praised the county staff’s “cooperative spirit” in making adjustments to their “wish lists” to reach a balanced budget.
Even so, the $61 million general fund represents a 6 percent increase over last year’s budget, said County Administrator Scott Johnson.
Johnson said most of that increase came from the county adding 23 positions to the staff over the past year. The budget also includes a $1.6 million contingency fund as a cushion for unexpected expenditures and emergencies, such as the recent ice storm that officials expect to absorb about $500,000 from the current budget, after reimbursements from state and federal authorities are taken into account.
Johnson said the county budgeted an expected 2 percent increase in the tax digest to pay for additional expenditures in the new budget.
The budget adoption passed 3-0, with Commissioner Trey Allen absent from the meeting.