Macon-Bibb unanimously passes budget | News
The first budget for the combined Macon-Bibb County was passed Monday evening.
The county commission unanimously approved a $159 million budget by a vote of 8-0, up from Mayor Robert Reichert's proposed $158.7 million.
Commissioner Mallory Jones was not present for the vote.
"We did what we had to do," Commissioner Larry Schlesinger said. "Everybody got something, but nobody really got everything that they wanted."
After much debate in the weeks leading up to the budget, it passed in about five minutes.
It restores funding to every outside agency that asked for county funds, like indigent care at the Medical Center, which had previously been zeroed out, Macon Transit Authority and its Paratransit, and local museums.
"That sends a strong, positive message to the community, to the region and to the state," said Reichert.
But covering the additional cost would likely mean using county savings, commissioners say.
Reichert says he plans to focus on economic development, attracting businesses and people to Macon to increase revenue and sales.
"That's not the best way to balance a budget, to dip into reserves. We hope we don't have to do that," he said.
"I wish that our bottom line had been in line with what the administration projected as being our revenues," Schlesinger added. "It was a little bit over."
But if Macon-Bibb has to use its savings, Commissioner Elaine Lucas says she supports it.
"We're not representing just some entity out there," Lucas said. "These are human beings that we all represent and we've got to always keep that in mind when we're talking about supporting or not supporting these services."
The first-ever budget for the newly consolidated government takes effect Tuesday.
Mayor Reichert says he won't increase property taxes to cover the costs of the additional funding in the budget.
He says property taxes for those in the former city will be cut in half, while property taxes for those in the county will stay the same.