County passes 2017 budget

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2016

By Tyler H. Jones

LaGRANGE — The Troup County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved its fiscal year 2017 budget.

The balanced $39.5 million budget is a slight decrease from last year, and the budget proposal shows county officials expect revenues to change from last fiscal year.

Specifically, revenues from real-estate taxes are expected to rise by about $1.3 million, while total revenue is expected to drop by about $280,000 due to anticipated decreases from local-option sales taxes, intergovernmental funding, donations, fines and forfeitures and other sources, according to the budget proposal.

The county’s public safety services continue to be the largest portion of expenses, with $20.5 million accounting for nearly 52 percent of the entire budget. Public safety expenditures are expected to rise by about $308,000 in fiscal year 2017, up from $20.2 million in fiscal year 2016.

County employees will also receive a 2 percent raise under the approved budget. Additionally, because of changes in the county’s health insurance program, the budget gives each employee a flat-rate $1,000 raise to help offset the rising cost of insurance.

“The insurance is going up 4 percent,” County Manager Tod Tentler has said previously. “If you’re a family-covered person, it (the $1,000) will pretty much be a wash. If you’re single, it’ll be a gain for you. That’s why we want to have the percentage raise on top of that.”

The raise, along with the $1,000 to offset insurance costs, would leave the county with $88,000 in a contingency fund, according to Tentler.

Additionally Tuesday, Commissioners voted down a bid proposal to clear land near the LaGrange-Callaway Airport for a proposed runway extension. The vote came after one of the bidders complained that the process had been unfair, but county officials said the bidder had not completed the necessary paperwork as part of the bid package.

Commissioner Morris Jones initially motioned to accept the bid, but the motion died for lack of a second. Commissioner Richard English motioned for the contract to be sent for bid again, and Commissioner Tripp Foster seconded.

Chairman Patrick Crews voted with English and Foster to rebid the project. Commissioner Buck Davis was physically absent from the meeting but used teleconferencing. He lost his connection just before the motion and did not cast a vote.

Two millage rate public hearings were also held Tuesday, one at 9 a.m. and another at 6 p.m. The current millage rate of 11.31 mills is not expected to change for fiscal year 2017.

No one spoke for or against the proposed millage rate at the first meeting. One person spoke at the 6 p.m. hearing. The man sought clarity that the millage rate would remain unchanged from last year.

Tyler H. Jones is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.