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County 2014 budget still awaits approval
Commissioners defer budget's second reading
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Rockdale County Board of Commissioners decided to give the county's 2014 budget approval a little longer.

The board met Tuesday morning with the second reading of the 2014 general fund budget on the agenda. However, commissioners unanimously agreed to defer the reading to Dec. 17.

Commissioners have been in budget talks since October and this week's meeting included what Chairman Richard Oden called, "multiple pluses and minuses," within several county departments.

Of those amendments were adding $83,000 to county's fire department for two additional positions and reducing an additional $424,000 in human resources department.

Commissioner JaNice Van Ness asked Finance Director Roselyn Miller if those reductions would still require going in to the county's reserves in order to balance the budget.

After some time of calculating at the podium, Miller said $4.7 million would need to come from fund balance.

Commissioner Oz Nesbitt said he did not like having the county's finance director calculating on the spot and suggested giving the second reading more time. Budgets are considered approved and adopted after the second reading.

"We're talking about calculating some serious dollars and I think she needs to be able to review these last-minute requests that are coming from the board," Nesbitt said.

Should the board not pass a budget by Jan. 1, 2014, Chairman Oden noted that the county will operate on its 2013 budget to operate month by month.

Commissioner Van Ness motioned to have the second reading deferred and the motion passed unanimously.

In her closing remarks, Commissioner Van Ness expressed her hopes of "whittling down," the roughly $4.7 million needed from the county's reserves.

"To dip in the fund balance that significant of an amount is going to be a serious burden on this community," Van Ness said.

Aside from the deferred budget reading, the BOC did approve the roughly $1.5 million to be used for the purchase of 43 new Rockdale County Sheriff's Office vehicles. The requisitions included the associated costs of installing law enforcement emergency equipment in the vehicles.

The purchase approval came after some questioning from Commissioner Van Ness about why there was only one vendor and if local companies had the opportunity to participate in the bidding.

Miller explained that the county's policy requires it to choose from a list of state-contracted vendors.

Chief Deputy Scott Freeman added that RCSO looked at three other vendors "to make sure we were getting the best pricing." Other vendors had difficulty handling the work volume and providing a large of enough staff and space to accommodate the work.

After more discussion, county directors and commissioners seemed to come to the consensus that more needed to be done in the future to involve local businesses in meeting the criteria for eligibility to participate in state contracts.

Before all five of the requisitions were approved, Chairman Oden asked if all the vehicles were needed.

RCSO needed those vehicles and more, according to the Chief Deputy, who added that the request had been "slimmed and trimmed," from 109 vehicles.

The board ended up approving the 43 vehicles and Chief Deputy Freeman thanked the commissioners for their support.

"This will help the Sheriff's Office continue to be a 21st century law enforcement agency and we are committed to making this county safe," Freeman said.