The meeting was the first back for County Administrator Mike Underwood, who was among three employees whose future with the county seemed bleak just two weeks ago.
Underwood presented commissioners with three options. Those included keeping the same millage and using $303,000 of reserve funds to balance the budget; using a rollback millage to meet the decrease in the county’s tax digest; or raise the millage enough to cover the county’s expenditures for the next fiscal year.
At first, commissioner Larry Childs seemed ready to make a motion to use the fund balance to meet the current budget with an effort to find cuts later.
Commissioner Daylon Martin then made an appeal to invest money for the county’s future and end years of cuts, which would include investment in the county’s industrial park, recreation improvements, provide funds requested by the county’s department heads, and purchase 12-year-old turnout gear needed by volunteer firefighters.
Commissioner Jonathan Pitts echoed Martin’s ideas while Childs agreed that both the Development Authority and Recreation Department needed the additional funds.
Martin proposed a mill for the Development Authority, which would pay for the bond payment on the land as well as a sewer system to serve future industries and the rest of the southern side of the county. He suggested three-quarters of a mill each to fund recreation, department requests, and a half-mill going toward firefighting equipment, for a total of three mills.
Underwood said, with a tax increase in mind, the commissioners needed to make their intentions known so that a meeting could be scheduled to set a tentative millage rate and begin the process to advertise the necessary public hearings, which would take at least 21 days to complete.
Underwood asked if the commissioners wanted a tax increase and if they wanted to schedule a meeting to set a tentative millage rate, to which Commissioner Tommy Robinson responded, “no and no.”
Chairman Preston Hawkins expressed interest in seeing the numbers to have an understanding of the details of the proposal. While there was no firm commitment from the commissioners to increase taxes, an agreement was reached to meet at 11 a.m. Monday to set a tentative millage rate. Once the process is started, the final millage can be lowered but can not be further increased without starting the process again.
For more details on tonight’s meeting and the result of Monday’s, pick up a copy of next week’s newspaper.