Supervisors to vote on $21M budget

Published 11:55 pm Friday, September 13, 2019

Lincoln County supervisors will likely approve a $21.6 million budget Monday that includes a 2-mil increase earmarked for road and bridge repairs.

The board will meet at 9 a.m. Monday at the Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex for a public hearing on the budget, followed by its regular meeting and budget vote.

The FY 2020 budget goes into affect Oct. 1.

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The increase means a taxpayer with a $100,000 home will see a $20 increase in ad valorem taxes.

Property values went up $7.9 million countywide. Based on the new assessed values, a mil will bring in more this year than last year.

A mil is worth $257,000 this next fiscal year, Fields said. That’s up from $249,849, or about $7,000 more countywide.

The 2-mil increase wasn’t in the first draft County Administrator David Fields presented to supervisors in August.

“I left the millage rate the same and they got to talking and said, ‘We need more road money,’” he said. “Well, the only way they can get more road money since the state isn’t putting a usage tax on gasoline increasing that is millage. So they said, ‘What would 2 mils do?’”

Brookhaven will get half of the millage on city property, which is 22.93 percent of the total millage recovered from the increase.

The biggest hurdle in creating a balanced budget is taking care of the county’s needs without increasing taxes. It’s not always possible.

“Costs are going up. When I first started here we could reseal a road with the gravel and all for about $12,000 to $15,000 a mile. Now you’re talking about $35,000 a mile,” said Fields, who has been on the job for 22 years. “Costs go up. Everything increases.”

Lincoln County is in the top 5 in the state for the number of road miles and bridges that must be maintained, he said.

District 3 Supervisor Nolan Williamson is responsible for 25.7 percent of the road miles, while District 1 Supervisor Jerry Wilson has 10.10 percent of the road miles. The other three supervisors — District 2 Bobby Watts, District 4 Eddie Brown and District 5 Doug Falvey — are in the middle between the two.

“So that’s how the money is split,” he said.

That could change if district lines are redrawn after the 2020 Census.

The 2019-2020 budget proposed includes revenues of $14.77 million for a tax levy and $6.92 million for other county revenue for a total of $21.69. That’s a 4.64 percent increase from the 2018-2019 revenues.

Expenditures include $9.93 million for the general fund, $3.26 million for road funds, $2.11 million for bridge funds and $6.34 million for other funds, for total expected expenditures of $21.64 million. That’s a 2.92 percent increase in anticipated spending.

“That’s about a $45,000 difference and that will probably get used for non-budget items throughout the year. So it’s pretty much a balanced budget,” he said.

The county will operate under a proposed 110.71 millage rate, which is 57.33 mils for the county and 53.38 mils for the Lincoln County School District.

The budget includes $85,000 set aside for a capital murder trial of Willie Cory Godbolt, who is accused of killing a Lincoln County deputy and seven other people in 2017.

“We didn’t spend that money this year,” he said.

Fields expects to have just over $100,000 set aside for the February trial.

“We still have no clue what the ultimate cost will be,” he said. “If there’s any continuance or delay it may be in another budget year.”

Supervisors will also give $100,000 to King’s Daughters Medical Center for ambulance services, which is down $40,000 from last year’s funding. The extra budgeted then was to help the hospital purchase an additional ambulance.