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County starts budget work in earnest
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Effingham County’s staff is beginning work on the fiscal year 2008-09 in earnest.

County staff has met with department heads to go over budget requests for the coming year and a rough draft is in the works.

“We have had some good discussions,” said county finance director Joanna Floyd. “I think most departments are trying to work within the constraints they know we have.”

Meetings with department heads have concluded, and county administrative staffers are going to go over the requests made by agencies.

“The main concern staff has is with the agencies,” interim County Administrator David Crawley said.

Crawley said it would be better for the commissioners to meet with those agencies in order to determine the level of financial support the commissioners wish to give them. Some agencies have requested twice what they were given in last year’s budget.

“If we have supported them in the past, it is reasonable for them to continue to receive support,” said Commissioner Verna Phillips.

But she also warned that there is a limit to the number of agencies and the amount of support the commissioners are willing to give.

“I can’t see adding anyone else and I can’t see adding additional money,” Phillips said, noting the recent legislative push to cap property taxes that is expected to impact county revenues.

Some commissioners are not so eager to continue funding outside agencies.

“If it is not a government entity, government doesn’t need to be supporting it,” said Commissioner Hubert Sapp.
Commissioners are expected to receive copies of the budget April 15, giving them a week to go over them before an April 22 workshop.

Two public hearings on the budget are scheduled for May 6 and May 20, with budget approval expected to take place at the June 3 commissioners’ meeting. The millage rate is expected to be set at the June 17 meeting.

The FY08 budget was $28.864 million.