Macon-Bibb Commissioners pass 3 mil increase, libraries set to reopen

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Macon-Bibb County Commission has avoided bankruptcy by adopting a 3 mil increase.

Property owners will see a 17% percent increase in their taxes. The millage rage is now set to 20.652.

The county now expects 12-million dollars in revenue for its 2019 budget.

Minutes after approving the tax increase, the commission approved money for Middle Georgia Regional Libraries, funding $238,791.67 for the first month.

“It means more importantly means that we stay compliant with our state requirements, and we keep all of the PINES benefits and all of the services that our local community has come to use through Macon-Bibb libraries,” said Middle Georgia Regional Library Director, Jennifer Lautzenheiser.

Although it was easy for commissioners to reinstate funding to libraries, it wasn’t easy agreeing on the millage rate.

“Well, we approved a millage rate that we don’t know what’s in it. There’s no corresponding budget so we don’t know what we’re agreeing to,” said commissioner Mallory Jones.

Jones voted against the 3 mil increase, since commissioners did not know how they would distribute the money, among departments and agencies.

“It’s what we had to do to keep this community going,” said commissioner Scotty Shepherd, who originally voted against the increase, changed his mind Thursday, bringing the vote 5 to 4.

Commissioners Virgil Watkins, Al Tillman, Elaine Lucas, Scotty Shepherd and Bert Bivins voted for the 3 mil increase. Commissioners Valerie Wynn, Mallory Jones, Joe Allen and Larry Schlesinger voted against it.

“I looked at the numbers of people that were working at the library, public works, parks and recreation and just, that is a tremendous amount of people that we would have sent home without a paycheck and so that’s when it became a people issue for me and I just couldn’t do that to them,” said Shepherd.

Although the commission agreed on a number, this is only the beginning. A budget with the expected revenue still needs to be approved and the August 30th deadline is quickly approaching.

The branches will reopen in the next few days. The Washington library is set to open on the 20th, Shurling and Lanford on the 22nd, and Riverside on the 27th.

Categories: Local News, WMGT

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