City officials want to meet with the county to go over Tobar’s figures

Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar presented a 2016 county budget to the Cairo Mayor and Council Monday night that indicates how each constitutional office and department of the county is funded to answer concerns that county ad valorem taxes paid by city residents were being spent in accordance with the Service Delivery Strategy, but city leaders want to meet again to review the budget in greater detail.
“This exercise was a good learning process for me. It puts the county in a good light. The board of commissioners are good stewards of the taxpayer funds as evidenced in these spreadsheets,” Tobar told city officials this week.
Tobar admitted his revenue breakdowns were “arbitrary” but he had to “stick it (revenue) in somewhere.”
According to Tobar, city residents pay $2,228,182 in county ad valorem taxes, but receive $3,710,348 in county services in return.
“I want to shout from the mountain top that city residents are getting a good deal. It’s obvious we are on the good side of the ledger,” Tobar said.
The county manager said that does not include $2.5 million that will be invested in road projects in 2016. “Not one dime of SPLOST or ad valorem taxes are being spent. It’s all other resources from the state and the feds, which is an added bonus for city and county residents,” Tobar said.
Grady County Commissioner T.D. David accompanied Tobar to the council meeting Monday night.
“Carlos has put many hours in on this effort, very conscientious hours, and I applaud him for doing this. I hope you see the work he has put in and it is something we can all agree upon and from year to year adjust as necessary,” Commissioner David said.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas, who chairs the council’s finance committee, questioned Tobar on some of his budget assumptions and in particular the insurance premium tax proceeds.
“Is it in law that you have to use that money for the Volunteer Fire Department or is that something you’ve chosen to do. Tobar said he would have to do additional research to answer the question.
Tobar admitted that additional work would be necessary to get an exact budget since payroll taxes and workers comp expenses for all county personnel are included in the general fund. “We probably could clean the budget up and it would be easier for city residents and the council to come up with the exact figures,” Tobar said.
Douglas recommended the finance committee meet with Tobar and county representatives to go over Tobar’s presentation in depth. “I think we should meet again to go over the numbers,” he said.
City Manager Chris Addleton agreed with Douglas and said they should go over the numbers with a “fine tooth comb.”
Outgoing Cairo City Councilman Kermit Gilliard, whose term expires Dec. 31, said, “I need more convincing that I, as a city resident, am getting my money’s worth. Right now I don’t believe it. It’s hard to imagine I pay the same rate of county taxes as my parents who live in the county, but I’m not getting the same services they do.”
Grady County Commissioner David said that hopefully additional meetings would result in something in black and white that would make everything clear to all.
No date for the joint meeting was set this week.
According to the Service Delivery Strategy agreement between the city and the county, ad valorem taxes paid by city residents are not to be used to fund solid waste, volunteer fire department, code enforcement, Roddenbery Memorial Library, economic development or county code enforcement.
Councilman Douglas recently raised the issue and requested the county prove that county taxes paid by city residents were not being used to finance those specific offices or departments. Tobar’s budget presentation this week was in response to Douglas’ inquiry.

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