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Budget reductions stalled
Outside agencies, non-profts see cuts in funding requests
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The Board of Commissioners considered several options to close a $2.6 million shortfall in the 2010 proposed budget but did not come to a conclusion by the end of the called meeting on Wednesday morning.

Some of the cuts recommended came from funding for outside agencies, including non-profits such as Rockdale Emergency Relief, Project ReNeWal, Rockdale Cares, the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts and mental health programs with the Community Service Board,.

About $325,138 was reduced from the requested budgets from 14 out of a list of 19 agencies.

Several residents spoke during the public comment session in favor of reducing funding for the Arts Council - which received a recommendation of $40,000 instead of the $100,000 requested.

Resident Garvin Haynes suggested reducing about $20,000 from the Arts Council and giving those funds to agencies such as Rockdale Emergency Relief and Rockdale Cares.

Resident David Williams echoed that sentiment. "I support the arts. I buy it," said Williams. He suggested that the artists should "create something people actually want and they might buy it."

Roselyn Miller, director of the Finance Department, said each agency would be notified of the board’s recommendations. She added that these cuts alone would not bring the $2.6 million reduction needed.

In a presentation, interim Chief of Staff Holly Bowie presented four possible scenarios to bring the proposed budget down 4.65 percent from $55.8 million to match the projected 2010 revenue of $53.3 million, using a combination of unpaid holidays, budget reductions, and millage rate increases.

One proposal would have five unpaid holidays for all county employees, for a savings of at least $530,000, an increase of the millage rate by 1 mill (or by $1 per $1,000 of taxed property value), and no reduction in services or budgets.

The second proposal also had five unpaid holidays, an increase in the millage rate by .5 mills, and a reduction in the budget, except for emergency services, by $1.04 million.

The third proposal had five unpaid holidays, no millage rate increase, and a reduction of the budget, from both the general government and emergency services, by $2.07 million.

The fourth option looked at nine unpaid holidays, for a savings of at least $954,000, and a reduction of the budget, both general government and emergency services, by $1.6 million.

County employees currently have nine paid holidays, according to Bowie. Commissioner JaNice Van Ness asked about the possibility of closing the county on other days, especially towards the end of the year. Bowie acknowledged it was possible but would require information not on hand at the moment. She pointed out paid holidays were the easiest place to start because the county was already set up to be closed on those days.

The BOC canceled its Nov. 23 work session and Nov. 24 meeting. The next time it will officially convene is at the Nov. 30 public budget hearing at 9 a.m. at 901 Main Street.