Bulloch County Commissioners passed the 2016 budget Tuesday, contingent upon the passing of a tax increase proposal next month.
Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch said during a recent meeting that the county has not raised taxes in eight years, but demands for services, mainly for public safety and law enforcement, require an increase if county residents are to continue receiving the current level of services.
Actually, population growth and an increase in crime have created a need for more public safety workers, law enforcement officers and equipment. A tax increase of 1.9 mils is recommended, he said.
The tax increase proposal will be discussed during three public hearings before commissioners vote on the increase. Hearings will tentatively be held July 28 (two hearings) and Aug. 4, Couch said.
The 2016 general budget is $2,957,867 over the 2015 budget, he said. The 2016 budget total, based on all projected income for the county, is $36,581,857. This year's (2015) budget is $33,623,990.
Couch said he expects the county to spend $3,053,926 more on expenditures this year than last, with $251,300 going to public safety, an increase over the 2015 budget by $24,300.
The Bulloch County Sheriff's Office is expected to receive $3,636,569, an increase over the 2015 budget by $141,349.
Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson has said there is an urgent need for more patrol deputies, other employees and equipment due to increasing demand for their services and the fact that in the past, with the county cutting expenditures in efforts to avoid tax increases, the sheriff's office is understaffed compared to other sheriff's offices of that size.
Other public safety offices also will see increases in budgeted funds, except the Statesboro-Bulloch County Crime Suppression Team, which will receive $4,671 less than the 2015 budget.
The jail, which is at full capacity and understaffed as well, Anderson said, is slated for an increase of $105,484 in its budget, according to information provided by Couch.
Bulloch County EMS will receive an increase in its budget of $573,070.
The 2016 Bulloch County budget may be viewed in detail at the Bulloch County Annex.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.