Columbia County considers list of cuts

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Columbia County commissioners suspect they might lose about $1.45 million in revenue this year because of Gov. Sonny Perdue's nixing the Homestead Tax Relief Grant.

To prepare for that possibility, and to secure an option besides dipping in a reserve fund, commissioners ordered county department heads to develop a plan for cutting 2.61 percent from their budgets. The proposed cuts, likely in the form of hiring freezes, deferred capital purchases and program eliminations, are to be delivered to the Administrator's Office by Oct. 6 and the commission will review the cuts at an Oct. 21 meeting.

Many department heads already submitted a preliminary list of possible budget cuts:

PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT

- Postpone filling a managerial position

- Introduce a sliding fee schedule for plats

WATER UTILITY

- Freeze all capital purchases

MANAGEMENT SERVICES

- Introduce a hiring freeze

- Defer the purchase of new vehicles and heavy equipment

- Eliminate non-emergency overtime work

- Restrict employees from taking county vehicles home

BUILDING, COMMERCIAL AND ENGINEERING SERVICES

- Hiring freeze

- Defer equipment purchases

- Cut back purchase of office supplies

- Cut certification compensation bonuses

- Possibly outsource some Internet technology services

- Cut training budgets, travel

CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE SERVICES

- Reduce HVAC contract

- Reduce mowing contract

COMMUNITY AND LEISURE SERVICES

- Close the Columbia County Library on Sundays. Before the March 2006 opening of the main branch on Evans Town Center Boulevard, officials had considered not opening on Sundays. Library Director Christina Rice said there was enough demand to justify the hours -- 2-5 p.m. -- and that Sunday is one of the most popular days.

- Freeze a library administrative specialist position

- Freeze a park services position

- Defer purchase of a truck for recreation department

- Defer minor property purchases

EMERGENCY SERVICES

- An initial list called for the elimination of the Senior Center program, but officials have decided to save the center.

ADMINISTRATOR'S OFFICE

- Reduce hours of operation for non-emergency activities

- Delay speed hump program or introduce cost-share program with neighborhoods

- Increase fees for services

- Outsource human resources

- Eliminate excess vehicles in favor of rentals

- Plan meetings that do not include lunches

- Delay all capital purchases

- Provide just one copy of all master plans and not one for each commissioner

-- Donnie Fetter, Columbia County Bureau Chief

Comments (21) Add comment
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nonumberplease
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nonumberplease 09/26/08 - 04:00 am
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I wonder why Richmond county

I wonder why Richmond county can't do the same instead of
business as usual, just let fred russell keep asking for more
tax money from property owners. Let's not freeze any positions
or get rid of dead weight we don't want to hurt anyone's feeling
afterall it is just taxpayers money who gives a flip!

wise ole man
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wise ole man 09/26/08 - 05:56 am
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What about al this travel

What about al this travel that the commisioners do at tax payer expense. With the use of internet this could easily be eliminated. Who pays for the wives to trot along beside the commissioners? Stay home and save more money. You can not expect these departments to cut if the commissioners are not willing to cut.

CSRAider
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CSRAider 09/26/08 - 06:54 am
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I work for a utility company

I work for a utility company and my boss does not drive his truck home. In fact neither does his boss. I believe they are getting compensated enough let them pay for their own fuel when doing personal stuff.

Mike Sleeper
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Mike Sleeper 09/26/08 - 07:00 am
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1) Commissioners are not

1) Commissioners are not reimbursed for in-county travel, only pre-authorized travel out-of-County travel on County business. 2) The taxpayers do NOT pay any expenses for a spouse if they go.

wise ole man
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wise ole man 09/26/08 - 07:15 am
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Wrong Mike and when did you

Wrong Mike and when did you become a spokesperson for the commissioners? isn't putting your foot in your mouth for the BOE enough for you- stick to what you know- which isn't saying much. Why do they need to travel all over the country?

reality_bites
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reality_bites 09/26/08 - 07:31 am
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Well, I guess Sleeper has to

Well, I guess Sleeper has to defend a family member. But in actuality, if a spouse does travel with a commissioner and the county is paying for their accomodation, they are using county tax dollars as well.

Mike Sleeper
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Mike Sleeper 09/26/08 - 07:36 am
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I am not a spokesman for

I am not a spokesman for anyone. I am stating the policies of the BOC because I looked into them a while back. The BOC pays the authorized travel and expenses for employees (e.g. Commissioners). If the spouse rides along or sleeps in the same room, there is no additional cost passed on to the County. The spouse meals and incidentals may not be reimbursed by the County either.

aaa
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aaa 09/26/08 - 07:37 am
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What? You mean a local

What? You mean a local government can run itself WITHOUT raising taxes??? Brilliant !

wise ole man
79
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wise ole man 09/26/08 - 09:25 am
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Does the spouse pay for half

Does the spouse pay for half the room and travel?

Niko Mahs
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Niko Mahs 09/26/08 - 10:03 am
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Now just how is that trickle

Now just how is that trickle down economic theory espoused by Reagan & the Bushies working for you now? The chickens have come home to roost, so maybe you should head to the Wife Saver for dinner tonight.

And just where have all of the SUV's in the Greater Columbia County area gone? We really need McCain/Palin now! Sonny, Saxby and Johnny are just great too! Vote Republican!

r11mcbell
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r11mcbell 09/26/08 - 10:44 am
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Wise ole man soum nds like an

Wise ole man soum
nds like an ignorant ole man. If you don't understand board or county policies then don/t try to make some up. Sleeper is a man with extrene integrity and has served us well. There is no subsition for dedication, knowledge, and integrity. Sleeper has all.

jack
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jack 09/26/08 - 10:58 am
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Sleeper, commissioners ARE

Sleeper, commissioners ARE compensated for in-county travel. There is little or no need for so amny commissioners to go to the same function/meeting. One can go and brief the rest on his/her return on what they "learned". It's called free gas at tax payer expense. I believe it would be a mistake to not allow Sheriffs department deputies to take thier vehicles home as they are on call 24/7.

informed1
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informed1 09/26/08 - 11:24 am
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How about the car allowances

How about the car allowances for department heads and other county officials of columbia county, they get $500 or $600 in addition to nearly $100,000 salaries?????

informed1
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informed1 09/26/08 - 11:25 am
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oh, forgot county pays for

oh, forgot county pays for their cell phones too.

wise ole man
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wise ole man 09/26/08 - 11:51 am
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r11mcbell- ignorance is in

r11mcbell- ignorance is in the hand of the pen and evidently your post is a good example of that old chinese proverb. With you as Mike's spokesperson his future run for whatever office is most assured embarrassment!

gnx
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gnx 09/26/08 - 02:36 pm
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I'd like to know why CC

I'd like to know why CC hasn't been watching the budget so carefully until now? None of the budget cuts I've seen look like they're going to seriously affect the taxpayers and will, in fact benefit them if they continue even after the budget crunch. Hey CC - how about reassessing our homes NOW? I think you'll find you seriously overstated the assessed value of many of the homes in the area and that further budget cuts will be forthcoming. I also agree with wise - with the advent of relatively inexpensive telecommunications travel out of town for meetings, retreats and conventions should be discontinued. The county certainly possesses the software and technology for doing so and should have already been utilizing it before now.

disssman
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disssman 09/26/08 - 04:21 pm
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Now folks quit acting like

Now folks quit acting like this. After all you put them in office by exercising your right to vote. Just don't forget it next time!!!

Mike Sleeper
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Mike Sleeper 09/26/08 - 05:19 pm
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The last time I checked they

The last time I checked they were not reimbursed for in-County travel. I did ask today and you are correct WOM, they do get a cell phone and a stipend for usage. I think that should be stripped. Times are tight and I think one should lead by example.

kellyb1971
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kellyb1971 09/26/08 - 09:35 pm
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Columbia County department

Columbia County department heads do not make $100,000 salaries. County officials are reimbursed for cell phone usage for business use. An employee shouldn't be required to use their personal family plan for work purposes. People who are required to be 'available' at all times should be compensated for the use. Also, keep in mind, the County is recommending these cuts because revenue is being cut by the state. Making cuts now does not imply that County officals have been fiscally irresponsible to date. I'm proud to live in Columbia County and I've been impressed with the vision and the leadership.

aunox
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aunox 09/27/08 - 01:16 am
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The level of ignorance on

The level of ignorance on this board is truly staggering and sad.

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