On Sept. 4, state agencies in Georgia were required to submit their proposed budgets to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (OPB). Agencies were instructed to request a 2 percent enhancement and 2 percent reduction for their fiscal year 2009 submissions. These requests will be reviewed by OPB and the Governor over the next couple of months. Once the governor has finalized his recommendations, he will present them to the General Assembly in January 2008.
This week's review includes the formal requests from the Department of Community Affairs, Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Public Service Commission within the scope of the Senate Economic Development Sub-Committee of Appropriations, chaired by Sen. Chip Pearson.
Department of Community Affairs
DCA is requesting $575,000 in additional state funds for fiscal year 2009. The funds are requested for the Coordinated Planning program’s planning and quality growth activity and will be matched 1:1 by local government contributions. DCA would like to use the enhancements to contract with the new Coastal Regional Commission (CRC) to address growth and development issues in Georgia’s coastal regions that will be listed in the Coastal Comprehensive Plan. The comprehensive plan, which will be completed this month, will outline a vision for Georgia’s coastal area to promote development without compromising the region’s natural environment for six coastal counties (Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn and Camden). This is controversial because the existing planning body, the Coastal Regional Development Center, believes it should develop this plan.
In addition to implementing initiatives that will be presented in the Coastal Comprehensive Plan, the new CRC may take on additional projects in the future. DCA has listed the Commission for New Georgia’s recommendation to replace the current regional development centers as one of its new initiatives. Furthermore, DCA potentially sees the CRC implementing one of the first Regional Water Plans. Also controversial.
Department of Economic Development
DEcD has requested $3 million in additional state funds for amended fiscal year 2008 and fiscal year 2009 for the Regional Economic Business Assistance grant program. REBA is a state funded program designed to assist local governments with economic development projects. The primary goal of REBA is to get companies to locate in Georgia which the EcD anticipates will result in increased capital investment for communities and increased or enhanced job opportunities. Since 1994, the program has awarded 510 grants totaling over $99.1 million. Previous budget cuts reduced REBA to $3.2 million, but this request would continue the trend of increased appropriations for REBA for the third consecutive year.
Georgia Public Service Commission
PSC is requesting $199,304 to contract with subject matter experts to monitor the cost effectiveness of construction programs. In fiscal year 2009, Georgia Power is expected to begin construction on the first new nuclear units built in Georgia in 20 years. The request will assist PSC monitor the construction costs of the nuclear units in order to protect rate paying citizens.
Next week — A look at the requests from agencies within the Transportation Sub-Committee.
Useful Web sites
Georgia Department of Community Affairs
Georgia Coastal Comprehensive Plan
Georgia Department of Economic Development
Georgia Public Service Commission
Visit the Legislature’s Home Page at www.legis.state.ga.us
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