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IDA pares budget for next fiscal year
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Anticipating a drop in property tax revenues, the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority is paring its budget.

IDA members approved a fiscal year 2010 budget for just more than $3.9 million at their meeting Thursday morning. The IDA is expecting a total operating revenue of $3.797 million, compared to last fiscal year’s $4.227 million.

From its 2 mills of property taxes, the IDA is expecting to collect $3.15 million, down from last year’s $3.45 million.

“We are anticipating a reduction in ad valorem tax revenue,” said IDA member Dennis Webb.

Total operating revenues are expected to be down 10.17 percent from last year and the total revenue and capital income will be down 65.8 percent from last year’s $11.47 million figure. Much of that came from the OneGeorgia grant, capital reserve and gas line temporary workspace that has been concluded.

The IDA’s total operating expenditures are pegged at $818,100, down from FY09’s $822,100. The biggest reductions will be in consultants/professional services — down to $100,000 from $125,000 — legal fees — down from $80,000 to $60,000 — and a drop in salaries, from $300,000 to $285,000.

“The biggest thing in my mind, in this economy, is we’re operating and our operating expenditures are going down,” IDA Chairman Chap Bennett said. “It’s hard to trim — costs aren’t going down.”

The IDA approved a bump in park maintenance, from $15,000 to $80,000.

“We do need to do a better job on some of this, especially on the roads,” Webb said.

He added that without further maintenance, the IDA may lose some of the roads in the massive Research Forest Tract. The park maintenance line item would go to such things as upkeep of gates and roads.

The FY10 IDA budget also has a drop in the reimbursement from the Effingham Chamber of Commerce from $60,000 to $5,000. Last year, IDA members approved a new arrangement with the Chamber of Commerce, with the IDA entering into a contract with the Chamber for professional services. That meant the IDA was no longer in charge of the Chamber’s payroll or pension and employee benefits.

“What we tried to do last year was come up with a cleaner system,” Webb said.

IDA CEO John Henry said the IDA and the Chamber will enter into a new contract negotiation.

The IDA also expects to spend more than 99 percent less on its I-16 piece this year as it did last year, scaling back from more than $2.7 million to $25,000.

“That could change,” Henry said. “But at this point in time, we don’t see anything happening.”

Plans for needed improvements at the Old River Road interchange are sitting at the state Department of Transportation, but the state agency didn’t have a line item of spending for the proper personnel’s time involved to review the plans — which left them out of the “shovel-ready” federal stimulus projects, according to Henry.