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Reduced budget unanimously passes first reading
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All three county commissioners voted to approve the first reading of the 2014 Rockdale County budget and the revisions proposed by the part-time commissioners, which reduced about $1.3 million from the Chairman's proposed budget to about $58.94 million.

Chairman Richard Oden had initially proposed a budget of about $59.3 million, which included 20 new positions.

The version that was approved contained the cuts proposed and agreed upon by Commissioner Oz Nesbitt and Commissioner JaNice Van Ness. The amended budget left out most of the the 20 new positions except chief code enforcement officer and two positions for Rockdale Fire and Rescue. It also did not contain additional funding for the RCSO pay and compensation plan, but the Sheriff's Office will still be able to fund the plan using savings from attrition, explained Finance Director Roselyn Miller at last week's work session.

Chief Deputy Scott Freeman said after the meeting, "We have been assured through the process of attrition that we will be able to fund with what has been budgeted for the sheriff's office for 2014. We are very comfortable with moving forward with it... It will require the RCSO to continue to be a good steward of the taxpayer dollars."

Other department reductions included: Finance - $20,000, HR - $30,000, Transportation - $20,000, Board of Commissioners - about $9,450, Finance - $500,000 in the contingency fund, Clerk of Courts - $19,000, Fire and Rescue - $249,000, Juvenile Court - $11,000, Magistrate Court - about $22,770, Planning and Zoning - about $109,000, Probate court - about $13,700, Recreation and Maintenance - about $28,600, Superior Court of Judge Robert Mumford - about $49,900, Transportation about $206,000.

Much of the cuts proposed by Commissioner Nesbitt came from looking at 2012 and 2013 funding levels.

"This budget in front of you received majority support," said Finance Director Roselyn Miller.

Van Ness added, before voting in favor of the first read, "There will still be a lot of work to be done and we will clean some of this up to get closer to our goal."

Oden also commented before the vote, "There is still work to do over the next seven to 10 days."

The BOC will discuss the 2014 budget at the Dec. 3. 6 p.m. work session at the JP Carr Community Center, 981 Taylor Street. The commissioners are scheduled to vote on the second read at the Dec. 10, 10 a.m. meeting at 901 Main Street.