Budget cuts may delay plans for new DSS building in Polk County

Published 5:21 pm Thursday, June 11, 2009

The revised budget includes a less conservative estimate of the tax collection rate for next year, and an increase in sales tax projections.

Whitson also proposed cutting library staffing to save $20,000, reducing building maintenance by $100,000, reducing debt service by paying off the Womack building this year to save $86,000, reduceing allocations for Lake Adger dam maintenance from $40,000 to $10,000, eliminating a fuel contingency to save $50,000 and reducing the overall contingency by $20,691, among other cuts.

Several residents spoke at the county&squo;s budget public hearing Monday, with most saying that times are hard right now for many people and a tax increase is not desired.

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Paul Weidman encouraged commissioners to go with a revenue neutral rate of 52 cents, saying that in today&squo;s economic reality a tax increase isn&squo;t sustainable.

Jerry Hardvall also said he was glad to see commissioners are working to have a revenue neutral tax rate.

Commissioners did not make a final decision on whether or not they will go with a revenue neutral tax rate, but did seem ready to hold off on the DSS building. Commissioners said Monday they will take the year to finalize a location for DSS and budget funds in the 2010/2011 fiscal year.

The county had planned to construct a new two-story building on two acres it owns on Park Street in Columbus to house DSS and possibly mental health. Some commissioners said that location doesn&squo;t allow for future growth and the board could not decide in recent months on where the new building should be constructed.

Another possibility was the new senior recreation facility location at the former Carolina Classical School off Skyuka Road, but the county would have to change its zoning at that location and some commissioners were against that route.

Commissioners set a special meeting next Monday at 6 p.m. to further discuss the budget and hear more public comments.