County proposes budget, litter program

File photoLowndes County proposed a balanced budget along with a new litter program that could replace Keep Valdosta-Lowndes Beautiful.

VALDOSTA — Lowndes County proposed a balanced budget that would include a new litter program at a work session Wednesday afternoon.

Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter said he felt good about the proposed budget of $108 million that the county will vote on at its next meeting. 

"We do have a balanced budget proposed in front of us, which we are very, very fortunate to have," Slaughter said.

The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing at 5 p.m., June 11, in the commission chambers. The public is encouraged to attend if residents have any thoughts or concerns about the budget.

The $108 million represents the total cost of expenditures for Fiscal Year 2020. The county's general fund balance, which pays for most of the county's services provided to the public, is set at $58 million and is completely balanced, county staff said.

Included in the budget is a new litter program that will be added before the June meeting, according to county staff.

The program would address issues regarding the illegal dumping of trash on the side of county roads in the unincorporated areas.

Lowndes County Commissioner Scotty Orenstein said he receives a number of calls from county residents complaining about litter along the side of the roads. He said Keep Valdosta/Lowndes Beautiful, the city-county organization responsible for fighting litter and promoting beautification projects, doesn't seem to take care of illegal dumping.

"Evidently, KLVB is not meeting that need for us at all," Orenstein said. "It's almost misleading."

Commissioners at the work session Wednesday said if the new program does well, the county may consider replacing KLVB with it.

County Manager Joe Pritchard said the county has the ability to eliminate KLVB or designate another agency to be the service provider for the county's litter program.

"We're creating a program that is directly under your supervision that is able to respond more efficiently to the request that (the commissioners) have made," Pritchard said.

The proposed litter program would take calls from residents, document them through work orders then transfer them to employees for completion, according to county documents.

A county division will be responsible for overseeing the removal and pick up all litter and items associated with illegal dumping. Employees in this division will respond to and investigate resident complaints and patrol for illegal dumping, have routes established and patrolled to perform preventative control, according to county documents.

Community service workers could work the affected areas and the program would include one bus picking up trash along rights of way four days a week.

It would include the placement of educational signs on the roads with heavy litter and hold area clean-ups to increase resident involvement.

Commissioner Clay Griner said he would like to see how the program does this year after the budget approval is completed and look at replacing the current litter program for county-wide services if it works.

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