Tobar unveiled his version of a “frugal” budget Tuesday night
Grady County commissioners have set a tentative tax rate at 14.653 mills, but on Tuesday night officials were presented a revised budget that could be funded with a rate of 13.85 mills, which is still up from the current 13.653 mills.
A revision to the tax digest that increased the value of motor vehicles bumped up the bottom line for tax revenue.
Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar said he has also spent the last week going back through each line item in the budget to make additional cuts.
Tobar said he had adjusted the road department budget in an effort to be less “aggressive” on the road improvement projects he planned to pursue.
The administrator had originally recommended a $232,108 increase in road department funding in 2018 over 2017, but on Tuesday night he backed down on that recommendation. He is still seeking an additional $130,257 in funding.
Tobar is proposing the elimination of two additional deputies and patrol cars for the sheriff’s office. He also slashed a refurbished ambulance and part-time staff for Grady EMS.
On top of Tobar’s cuts came a state mandate to provide all volunteer firemen with cancer insurance, which will increase the budget by $43,200 annually. That, combined with work on a pumper, still sees the VFD budget increasing $107,168 over last year.
Tired Creek expenses, according to Tobar’s budget reports, dropped from $862,214 in 2016 to $313,919 in 2017, but he is requesting an additional $239,739 in 2018 to cover debt payments.
Previously, commissioners had been looking at expenses of over $1 million more over 2017, but with Tobar’s cuts the increase expenses total $912,693.
“There are things we can’t control like state and federal mandates, but what we can control we are trying to cut it,” pledged Grady County Commission Vice Chairman Ray Prince.
At Tuesday night’s public hearing on the proposed 14.03 percent tax increase, Commissioner T.D. David challenged the audience to identify what service they would prefer to eliminate. “If we cut taxes, we have to cut services. Which one do we cut?” David asked.
“This is all a priority game. What’s fluff and what isn’t?” David said.
Vice Chairman Prince acknowledged that some county expenses could be “managed a little better.”
No action was taken on Tobar’s “frugal option” but commissioners pledged to continue revising and cutting the budget where possible before a final vote, which is scheduled for Aug. 17.