By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Bulloch officials ‘retreat’ to stadium this week to set county budget goals
No totals yet, but $51 million general fund expected to increase with inflation, growth
The Gene Bishop Field House at Georgia  Southern University’s Paulson Stadium hosts some non-sports strategy discussions as the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners holds a budgeting retreat with department heads  March 22 and 23.
The Gene Bishop Field House at Georgia Southern University’s Paulson Stadium hosts some non-sports strategy discussions as the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners holds a budgeting retreat with department heads March 22 and 23. (SPECIAL PHOTO)

The Bulloch County Board of Commissioners and staff are holding a budgeting retreat Wednesday and Thursday, March 22-23, not to get at final numbers for the fiscal 2024 budgets at this point but to hear needs and goals from departmental and agency chiefs.

All these county officials aren’t retreating very far, but to a place where strategizing is often done: the Gene Bishop Field House at Paulson Stadium, 2100 Malecki Drive. The Wednesday, March 22, session is projected to last from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and the Thursday, March 23, session from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., with some breaks. The meetings are open to the public.

Some big numbers loom in the backfield:  In the current year’s general fund budget, which runs through June 30, projected $48.38 million in revenue but allowed for $50.97 million in spending. Budgets for all the county government funds – including those for capital projects supported by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, and the Transportation SPLOST, as well as smaller special funds and the general fund – totaled $118 million.

Inflation is happening, and a boom in industrial and residential growth has moved closer than the horizon. So, county staffers have launched the budgeting process earlier than in past years to get the commissioners on the field and the new budget in place before it opens July 1.

“We are trying to start earlier this year so that we have more time in the back end to discuss and make changes and have everything finalized before July,” said the county’s Chief Financial Officer Kristie King. “So we’re working on a more strategic planning focus. With the budget retreat we’re just trying to focus on the big picture for all the departments.”

With this in mind, she said, final budget requests, with numerical totals included, aren’t due in the county finance office until Friday, March 31, eight days after the retreat ends. Agency and departmental leaders file these through a software system, and King has seen that most have submitted requests or are working on them, she said.

Kristie King
Kristie King

For the retreat, agency chiefs – including elected officials such as the sheriff, tax commissioner and clerk of courts as well as those who are hired by the board and the county manager – have been asked to anticipate their agencies’ needs, especially for personnel, beyond the next fiscal year.

“We felt like this year is a really pivotal year because we know that there’s growth coming, so we need to know where departments are not only for what they’re currently doing but if the population does grow the way we’re thinking it’s going to, what are they going to need in the next three  to five years,” King said.


Wednesday session

Beginning 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the commissioners are expected to hear King’s introduction, followed by presentations on human resources and risk management and government buildings. After a 10-10:15 a.m. break, presentations are expected from the elections, development services, tax assessors and tax commissioner’s offices.

After the lunch break, commissioners will hear, beginning at12:30 p.m., from the Recreation and  Parks Department, Bulloch County Correctional Institute, the Sheriff’s Office and jail and the Public Works Department.


Thursday session

Thursday, the retreat is slated to resume at 8:30 a.m. with presentations about the E-911 Dispatching Center and the Bulloch County Fire Department. After the morning break, a presentation about Animal Services beginning at 10:15 a.m. is slated to be followed by those about Animal Services, adult probation, the Superior  Court and clerk of court offices, the State Court and solicitor’s office. Finally, after a 12 p.m.-1 p.m. lunch break, presentations on the Magistrate Court and Probate Court are slated to conclude the retreat.

“What we’re looking at is an overall goal and objective for the entire county, and so then each of those departments  will  come in and say, these are our personnel  requests,  these are our concerns, these are where we’re heading, and  this is  what  we need to get there,” said Broni Gainous, community relations manager for the Board of Commissioners.

The agenda reflects the larger agencies but not all of the detailed requests that go into the county budget, since the county supplies funding to more than 30 departments, agencies and special programs.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter