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County commissioners look to maintain tax rate

Grady County commissioners are looking to hold the line on the ad valorem tax rate this year by setting a tentative millage rate of 13.265 mills last Thursday night.
Commissioners will set the final millage and formally adopt the 2016 operating budget at a called meeting on Thursday, July 29 at 9 a.m.
The tentative budget approved last week totals $11,977,550, which includes a three percent raise for county workers.
County commissioners are also going along with the plan of County Administrator Carlos Tobar to utilize Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant money to fund expenses of the county’s road department to the tune of $125,000 in 2016.
Tobar says the county will receive a total of $506,000 in LMIG next year and the remainder of that total will be used for road projects.
The county administrator said the county’s auditor, Tom Carmichael, was in agreement with Tobar’s plans to shift some LMIG funds to defray the costs of road department operations.
Tobar also reported last week that it is likely the county could save as much as 20 percent on workers compensation and liability insurance based on improvements made by the county in regards to safety and safety training.
However, Tobar is not budgeting the savings in the 2016 spending plan.
“Little things add up to savings. I’m not counting on it, but it’s a possibility,” Tobar said.
Under the administrator’s budget proposal, the county would end 2016 with a projected budget surplus of $20,334.
“Are these numbers right? Nothing’s going to come up and bite us in the butt, is it?” Chairman LaFaye Copeland asked Tobar Thursday night.
“If the economy tanks we are in a world of hurt. If there are any surprises, hopefully they will be on the positive side. We squeeze the quarter so hard here the eagle screams,” Tobar said.
Commissioner Ray Prince said he was opposed to the 10 percent pay hikes some constitutional officers had requested. Tobar said he was as well and had only recommended proposals with three percent and two percent raises as options for consideration.
“Who says we have to give a three percent raise?” Chairman Copeland asked.
Commissioner Charles Norton said that for two years recently the board did not give raises to county employees. County Clerk Carrie Kines confirmed that, but noted that it was not two years in a row.
Tobar said the numbers for the first half of 2015 are “looking good.”
The board voted unanimously to tentatively adopt the $11,977,550 budget and set the tentative millage rate at 13.265 mills.
Prior to the budget discussions, the board heard from residents of Borden Lane and Borden Road, who requested the county pave their roads.
A similar request was made by the delegation in 2012 and residents say the road suffers from drainage problems, and claim it is a safety hazard.
Residents thanked the county for having the road department put gravel out to stabilize the road, but called those efforts “Band-Aids” to the problem.
Commissioner Elwyn Childs, whose district includes the two roads, told the audience “I’m aware of the problem…very aware, but we are not treating it any different than Childs Lane or Norton Lane. We’ve got over 300 miles of dirt road we have to maintain. I hope we can do something to improve it, but I can’t promise a certain date.
County Administrator Tobar said that he was investigating grants that might be available to fund paving of the the road and lane.
Tobar also suggested installation of chevron signs might also be helpful.
“We will try to do something. I know you were here in 2012 and now its 2015, but we haven’t forgotten you,” Chairman Copeland said.
Commissioner Norton said the issue was first brought up in 1997 and 1998.

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