Whitfield budget deficit could cause cuts, layoffs - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Whitfield budget deficit could cause cuts, layoffs

Posted: Updated:

Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter

WHITFIELD COUNTY, GA. (WRCB)-- It appears cuts and layoffs are inevitable, as Whitfield County faces a multi-million dollar budget deficit for fiscal year 2011.

Commissioner Chairman Mike Babb says cuts will be made across the board.

Since the recession began, the county has used a reserve savings fund to supplement the budget.

But Chairman Babb says that must stop.

The only areas safe from cuts are those the state says the county must fund.

"It's time to decide what we're going to do," says Chairman Babb.

Mike Babb and the board commissioners in Whitfield County have a lot of decisions to make before January, decisions that will mean big changes.

"We've actually been facing this for two or three years," says Babb.

The county is also facing a 20 percent shortfall in property tax revenue.

What it all boils down to is a $43 million budget that has to be cut six to seven million dollars.

"We need to level things out because we can't continue to spend more than we're taking in," says Babb.

Anything Whitfield County isn't required to fund by state law is on the chopping block.

Like $950,000 for the Board of Health, one million dollars for parks and recreation and even bigger departments like the sheriff's office aren't immune.

"When times get hard, public libraries traditionally see their use go up," says Joe Forsee, Director of Dalton Regional Public Library.

The $226,000 that went to the Dalton Regional Public Library last year sounds like pennies compared to other department budgets, but it's money the library relies on.

"We're going to have to look at either reducing staff or hours of operation or both," says Forsee.

The library has already seen state funding cuts for several years.

What keeps them going is money from the county. Director Joe Forsee says further cuts will hurt severely.

Commissioners voted in October to hold the millage tax rate at 5.061.

Commissioner Babb says the deficit won't change that.

The 2011 budget has to be approved by January 1st.

Powered by Frankly