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Roads could benefit from expected surplus
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Effingham County commissioners could have a big decision soon on how to spend money.

The county could end up with a surplus in excess of $3 million from the fiscal year 2007 budget. County officials projected a surplus of $4 million two months ago and revised that to $3.75 million last month.

At Tuesday night’s commission meeting, commissioners were told to expect a surplus from last year’s budget.

“There’s a lot of outstanding payments to be made,” cautioned County Administrator Ed Williams. “There’s no doubt we are going to end up with a surplus in the general fund.”

The county also got a boost of $2.3 million last month when an individual paid outstanding sales taxes dating back to 2004.

“I’m very happy,” commission Chairwoman Verna Phillips said of the surplus.

Commissioners have a few options in front of them, such as restoring the fund balance. Commissioners had used fund balance in previous years to balance the budget, leaving it dangerously low. They also may use some of the surplus to address road issues.

“Roads right now are our priority,” Phillips said. “Right now, the thing is to use it wisely and frugally. Our most critical item to address on a daily issue is transportation.”

Commissioners approved a $28.26 million budget for FY07 and a $28.56 million budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. Phillips is wary about just how far the surplus will go, once the county finishes paying its bills and taking care of its obligations.

“We just have a little,” she said, “and there’s always something that comes up. But we’re in a much better position than not having enough.”