Macon-Bibb Commissioners want to delay vote on budget

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)- Some Macon-Bibb County Commissioners say they need more time and more money to approve a $158 million dollar budget.

Elaine Lucas, Bert Bivens, and Virgil Watkins say the budget is unfair, and does not reflect a consolidated government.

“We are balancing this budget on the backs of people who are least able to afford a lot of things in our economy,” said Lucas.

Lucas, Bivens and Watkins say the county’s budget does not currently include finances to help Medical Center of Central Georgia’s indigent care patients. They say the budget also ignores people with disabilities, who ride Macon’s Para-Transit Authority buses.

“The people said with their vote for consolidation, they wanted to be one community,” said Bivens. “This budget makes it clear that this is not the goal of this administration.”

The commissioners say another issue is there is not equal pay for former Macon police officers and Bibb County Sheriff’s Deputies.

“Those who risk their lives everyday, have come to us with serious concerns over peraty in their positions,” said Watkins. It will take 2.5 million dollars to ensure the budget is fair to all residents, according to Watkins.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis says the disparity between the former Macon police and the sheriff’s deputies was discovered last year. The sheriff says his office has been working with the county administration to bridge the gap.

“Right now it’s all about a money issue, the money is just not there, as they say in the budget,” said Sheriff Daivis. “It’s an issue that’s not going to go away and it’s something that probably needs to be address probably the sooner that it is addressed the better.”

Lucas says she has been swamped with people questioning her about their concerns of how the money in the budget is being used. Watkins and Bivens said they too have heard from residents and believe they need more time to make the budget fair for all parties involved.

“We have along way to go before I think this is a budget that true Macon can be proud of,” said Watkins. ” I think we need to have a few more discussions and hopefully we can come to some consideration be it through funding balance or a reduction in the amount of reduction for our tax decrease this year.”

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