Projected shortfall in budget, Macon-Bibb Commissioners must decide on adjustments

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ATHENS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Macon-Bibb County Strategic Planning Retreat kicked off with the general fund budget being the big topic.

County leaders gathered at the University of Georgia Hotel and Conference Center Tuesday afternoon for day 1 of 2 of the retreat. The commissioners were left to decide how they going to balance the budget before the Fiscal Year 2018 is over.

Assistant county manager, Julie Moore, showed commissioners a projection of the county budget’s expenditures and revenue. The county budgeted $149 million. The projection for expenditures is $154 million and for revenue is $150 million. If the county continues the way it’s going, there could be a $4 million deficit.

Now, commissioners must figure out what cuts need to be made. Moore and other leaders presented options such as making adjustments to healthcare and pension plans, reducing operations by 2%, reducing operations for recreation or other funds. Another millage increase and new penny sales tax (Other Local Options Sales Tax) are also options.

Mayor Robert Reichert says this discussion is the beginning of a much bigger discussion. But he assures the county is making progress since consolidation.

“We’ve got 3 years now of history, now we’re on our 4th year, in finalizing all of those numbers and we can be more accurate in our predictions on both revenues and expenses,” said Reichert.

If the county does not make cuts or adjustments to its budget, a projection shows that Fiscal Year 2019 could show a deficit of $10 million.

Wednesday’s meeting is expected to consist of an update on the Blight Remediation Program, Special Local Options Sales Tax (SPLOST) and Transportation Special Local Options Sales Tax (TSPLOST). Commissioners will also get to decide on which projects they want to prioritize in the next year.

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Edna Ruiz joined the 41NBC news team in October of 2016. She was born and raised in Plant City, Florida. Edna graduated from the University of South Florida in May of 2016, majoring in Telecommunications with a focus in Broadcast News and a minor in Political Science. During her time at USF, she interned at Univision Tampa Bay, FOX 13 News and was the On-Air Promotions announcer for the New York Yankees during Spring Training. She was a USF Latino Scholar and a member of Alpha Delta Pi. She comes from a Mexican-American background and is fluent in Spanish. Although she’s very new to the area, she is excited to be serving the Middle Georgia community. Edna loves to meet new people and hear their stories. So, if you have a story idea or just want to say hi, feel free to reach out to her at eruiz@41NBC.com