Macon-Bibb commissioner fears job cuts looming with mandated budget reduction

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Macon-bibb elected officials are working with state legislators to iron out details of the consolidated government’s budget heading into the next fiscal year.

Macon-Bibb is facing required cuts over the next five years. 
In Tuesday’s annual meeting between Macon-Bibb officials and the legislative delegation pointing out a “wish list” of future goals — several requests were on the table including lowering the consolidated government’s budget reduction rates. 
“I can’t say that I was in favor of the 20% reduction anyway because I knew that this whole consolidation process would have so many growing pains as is,” state Representative Nikki Randall said. 
Initially, the government’s charter mandated 20% of both the city of Macon and Bibb County’s budget, be cut in the next five years. 
County commissioners are asking for that rate to be brought down to 10% possibly even removing the cuts completely. 
“80% of the cost is people and services and you can’t reduce by that much without reducing people and services,” Macon-Bibb County District 5 Commissioner, Bert Bivins, said. 
Officials fear the rate of reductions could mean a significant loss of jobs.
Original plans called for the steady budget cuts to save the county money. 
“The intent was that we start from the last full fiscal year of the two combined governments and start that as the base year and then a 20% reduction from that,” state Representative Allen Peake said. 
The cuts began July 1st — county leaders are asking to include the higher 2014 budget instead of beginning with the2015 budget so the government can spend more money or a possible combination of the reduced rates and including last year’s budget. 
“We want to look behind the numbers as well to see what’s being proposed, what the effect of all of that would be, and as I said also look to what was promised to the people initially,” state Senator-elect, John Kennedy, said. 
If the 20% stands, officials are concerned about putting together future budgets and what that will mean for different departments in the county including public safety. 
“At the end of the day it’s important that we provide the resources for public safety and the running of an efficient government. So if we need to make and alter some changes to the budget requirement, I think you’ll see the delegation is open to that,” Peake said. 
Several legislators support the idea of lowering the budget reduction mandate, but say it’s important to look at the big picture. 
“If the government has to put the money towards public safety then the cuts are going to have to come from somewhere else and so it could affect other services,” Randall said.

Normally, county commissioners are responsible for overseeing everything involving the budget, but with a new consolidated government, state lawmakers are helping out 
Legislators will decide whether to put the item on the agenda before they head back to the gold dome in January. 
Categories: Local News

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