Dade County making employee & service cutbacks - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dade County making employee & service cutbacks

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DADE COUNTY, GA (WRCB) - Cash-strapped Dade County is making cuts to its services and employee base. Upset residents pushed the commission to strike down a proposed tax increase a few weeks ago, but leaders say a lesser increase in the millage rate is still needed. In addition, nearly every county department is being forced to scale back.  

"It's been tough. It's been very difficult," Dade County CFO Don Townsend said.

Townsend finally has the budget in black and white, which comes in more than $2.6 million less than last year's, which means cuts.

"It does appear to be the largest cuts since I've been here," Townsend said.

42 county positions have been eliminated or face furloughs. That includes workers from the 911 center, public transportation and all seven part-time EMT's.

"It's hard, especially when you start talking about laying people off because you're affecting families," Dade County Executive Ted Rumley said.

Among the other departments forced to operate with less money are the sheriff's department, fire department, and library.

"We are making cuts to them, but they're still in existence," Townsend said.

Some residents, like Larry Gass, say they'd rather see cuts than have to pay more on property tax.

"Most people can't afford the tax increase, like me on a fixed income," resident Larry Gass said, "I've run a business for years and years and if I didn't have the money I had to cut back."

Leaders say they kept from raising taxes for the last several years, since the community has gone through so much from tornadoes to floods and the loss of Shaw, one of its largest employers. But now, they say they're doing what they must in order to keep each county service running, even on a smaller scale.

"Everything's went up, fuel, cost of operating government, the whole thing," Rumley said.

They just hope these are the last cut backs they have to make for awhile.

"I don't know how much more we can go before the people start really feeling it in the services," Rumley said.

The Dade County commission will have its final public hearing Thursday night as they take the final vote on a 1.76 mil rate increase. Rumley says he's talking to state legislators about the possibility of creating a sales tax increase of one or two cents aimed specifically at lowering county mill rates.
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