County preps for tax rate rollback
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
County officials hope to roll back the 2008 millage rate from 8.43 mills to 8.35 mills this year. Accordingly, at a work session last week, commissioners took their first look at some preliminary budget figures presented by County Manager Michael Lamar.
“This is only a projection,” said County Commission Chairman Mack Bohlen. “It's too early to lock it in.”
Officials reviewed numbers for four particular areas of the budget: salary increases, at $300,000; capital expenditures, at $398,000; appropriations to non-county entities, at $7,600; and non-personnel line item increases, at $164,000.
The salary increase figures include both new-hires in the sheriff's department for the new jail (expected to be operational in the next calendar year), as well as another deputy and cost-of-living (three percent) and merit increases (two percent, where appropriate) for county staff.
Capital expenditures in the coming year could include $16,000 for new computers; $6,000 for a new damper for the courthouse; $25,000 for paint and exterior repairs to the newly-acquired county “Creamery;” $130,000 for cars, video cameras and stab vests for the sheriff's department; $63,000 for equipment for the roads and bridges department; $47,000 for equipment for the parks and recreation department; $78,000 for a truck, cameras, and dump-site security systems for the code enforcement officer; and $20,000 for the planning department.
Non-county appropriations include monies given to entities such as the hospital, the library, Department of Family and Children's Services, area forestry offices, and so on, that are not county agencies but which are supported in part by the Morgan County government. Those appropriation would increase only $7,600 under the proposed budget, with most of that increase going to DFACS, the Madison-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, and Walton/Morgan Unlimited.
These proposed 2009 budget figures spurred some vigorous debate amongst commissioners, who expect to make cuts in several areas, possibly by having some departments do without new equipment for another year, or share currently-owned equipment between departments.