Commission approves $40.9 M budget, Boyd Park construction contract

Matthew Strother

June 18, 2014

Troup County Commission on Tuesday formally adopted a $40,947,049 budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

County Clerk/Finance Officer Scott Turk said the budget contains no increase over the current millage rate, 10.99 mills for general operations for a total 11.31 mills when including debt service. Because the millage rate is not being rolled back, which can affect properties that have been revalued and appraised at a higher cost, the commission will hold three public hearings on the millage rate: July 1 at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., and July 15 at 9 a.m., all in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room on the first floor of the Troup County Government Service Center.

“This budget includes absorbing the 1.1 percent drop in the overall property digest as well as some other significant sources of revenue, while also absorbing some significant increases in medical claims,” Turk said. “And we’re trying to make some head way back toward catching up on some capital that we deferred over the past few years due to the recession.”

County Chairman Ricky Wolfe also noted the county saw a $800,000 drop in revenue from the jail due to the state leaving fewer sentenced prisoners in the county jail. Sheriff James Woodruff said the state has to pay the county a per diem cost for each day after nine following a prisoner’s sentence that it leaves the inmate in the jail, but the state has recently pushed to get inmates out within the time frame, so the county is no longer receiving the money.

Capital investments in the budget include two new vehicles for the sheriff’s department, one vehicle each for the fire departments and shop, and partial investments on new vans for Parks and Recreation and Troup Transit. Also new equipment for the jail and fire departments, software for courts and the tax commissioner, new backup servers and the second year of the five-year roll out of improvements to convenience centers.

Other new costs include merit raises for some employees; new positions in juvenile court for a grant writer and a new property appraiser; and additional funding for the District Attorney, building maintenance, auto fuel and victim/witness program.

In another matter, commissioners approved allowing County Commissioner Tod Tentler to execute a contract with West Point-based Batson-Cook Construction for construction of the Boyd Park amphitheater in downtown LaGrange. The project has a total budget of $7.5 million, which includes the $6,983,960 million contract with Batson-Cook and $516,000 in “soft costs,” which include items like soil testing, furnishings, a large projection screen, portable audio-visual system and concession equipment.

The Callaway Foundation had originally pledged $4 million for the project with $1 million coming from the countywide special-purpose, local-option sales tax funds for the project. Additional negotiations led the Callaway Foundation to pledge $6 million with the SPLOST contribution to increase to $1.1 million and the city of LaGrange contributing $400,000 to the project.

Tentler said construction should last about 18 months.

“What a great public-private partnership we have that we can put up $1.5 million and get a $7.5 million project back out of it,” he said.