Originally created 05/16/03

County budget plan skips tax increase



It will cost more to run Columbia County's government next year, but residents won't see a tax increase, according to a budget package presented Thursday.

The budget that will go before county commissioners early next month for a final vote sits at $39.1 million - a 3 percent increase over the current budget. The new budget year begins July 1.

The balanced budget is a long way from where officials started just a few months ago. Then, the budget was $5.3 million out of balance - split between $3.5 million in purchases and $1.8 million in new employees.

"You have to remember we are recovering from a recession," said County Administrator Steve Szablewski.

Officials whittled the deficit down to about $850,000 earlier this month, including cutting nearly $2.26 million in capital requests and new hires.

On Thursday, Financial Services Director Leanne DeLoach presented a couple of options for dealing with the $844,781 difference between revenues and expenditures.

Tentatively, officials are planning to cut the county's utilities budget by $260,000 and make more cuts in new hires. They also could save money by financing vehicle purchases over three years instead of purchasing them outright, Mrs. DeLoach said.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 109, or ccchron@augustachronicle.com.