After weeks of discussions, the Newton County Board of Commissioners may finally get down to choosing a budget at a 6:30 p.m. work session Thursday at the Historic Courthouse.
The board was originally faced with collecting $2.6 million less in property taxes than last year, but higher than expected property values could give the county an additional $800,000 to work with.
If the county chooses not to raise the millage, it will have to cut $1.77 million from the budget. If it chooses to make up that difference through property taxes, it will have to raise the millage rate from 10.91 to 11.727.
Commissioners Tim Fleming and Nancy Schulz are both expected to present budgets Thursday. While Fleming is adamantly opposed to a millage rate increase, Schulz said Tuesday she is still considering both options.
"If we try to balance the budget based on the 10.91 millage rate, we have to cut $1.77 million, and I don't know where (to cut). I haven't yet found a place where we can cut," Schulz said.
Many services are mandated by either state or federal law or by local signed agreements. Schulz requested that any residents who have ideas on what to cut email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chairman Kathy Morgan expressed frustration Tuesday at the lack of openness from commissioners in the budget process to date.
"Instead of working together in the budget meeting in a transparent fashion, some are creating their own budget. I assume they will present them at the next budget meeting," Morgan said. "My goal is to prepare a budget that sustains a strong, healthy Newton County."