Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

March 12, 2014

Final day of County budget hearings

VALDOSTA — On Tuesday, the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners heard budget proposals for the 2015 fiscal year from five departments: the District Attorney, the Magistrate Court, the Solicitor, the State Court, and the Tax Commissioner. County Clerk Paige Dukes said a lot of the departments expressed a need for an increase based on state mandates.

The District Attorney requested an additional $31,800 because that is their share of the circuit wide increase. The DA's total budget request for 2005 FY is $755,687.

Chief Magistrate Joni B. Parker presented the County's Magistrate Court budget proposal. The Magistrate Court has utilized a wireless warrant system, the Palatine software, since mid December 2013, and when it was first implemented it ran through the County's I.T. Budget.

“I did not know there was an annual licensing fee until yesterday,” Parker said. “So I put the cost on my budget, but it could be broken up three ways.”

The licensing fee was for $11,765, and County Manager Joe Pritchard discussed keeping the annual fee in the I.T. Department's budget. Before this issue, Parker was considering adding a part-time judge to her budget, but because of the Palatine software, Parker no longer needs a part time judge.

“I worry about my budget and my balance statement,” Parker said. “If I am off by a penny, I'll find that penny.”

The County's Magistrate Court requested an additional $39,000 for the 2015 FY.

Other County Departments, such as the Solicitor, State Court, and Tax Commissioner all requested to add staff to their departments.

The Solicitor requested an additional $85,627 to the total budget, and $66,853 of that is to add a solicitor and a victim's advocate. The State Court requested an additional $287,562, with $126,234 of that going to the salary line item to add a judge to the County's state court. The Tax Commissioner requested an additional $86,887, and $41,351 of that is to add an additional position in the department.

“The Commissioners gained a lot of useful insight, and they were able to provide staff with the direction that's needed to move forward in the process,” County Clerk Paige Dukes said.

Stephanie Black, finance director for Lowndes County said departments put in what they felt is needed to efficiently and effectively run their offices, and for the most part those were increases.

The budget requests exceeded the current projected revenues by $7.5 million, the county states, and they will spend the next months trying to reach common ground with the departments.

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